Knowledge for Development

The key to tackling hunger in Africa is enriching its soil

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Date: 10/04/2012

Introduction:

This news report by Nature explains the importance of fertilizers in keeping Africa’s soils nourished and the action taken by decision-makers. Fertilizers make a profound difference because the rusty red soil, as in many parts of Africa, is deficient in organic matter and in key nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. African governments, international donors and scientists agree that farmers must revitalize their soils, but don’t on the best way to tackle the challenge. Many African governments and agricultural scientists argue that large doses of inorganic fertilizers are the most practical solution. But others are pushing for greener, cheaper solutions, such as no-till farming that conserves soil and 'fertilizer plants' that boost the soil's nitrogen content organically. Researchers report that these latter techniques are beginning to raise yields and improve soil fertility. But farmers are slow to adopt such practices, which require significantly more labour. The report gives an extensive overview of the latest efforts in soil conservation and examines governments and NGOs answers to the problem.

(Nature, 29/03/2012)

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