Agriculture, Economy

How We Can Unlock Agribusiness Through the Nairobi Declaration on Soil and Fertilizer

Like mil­lions of oth­er Kenyans, my par­ents are small­hold­er farm­ers. Accord­ing to the Food and Agri­cul­ture Orga­ni­za­tion (FAO), there are 33 mil­lion small­hold­er farms across Africa, con­tribut­ing up to 90% of food pro­duc­tion in some sub-Saha­ran African coun­tries. Yet, small­hold­ers account for nine out of ten peo­ple liv­ing in pover­ty in sub-Saha­ran Africa.

These trou­bling sta­tis­tics were at the fore­front of my mind dur­ing the recent­ly con­clud­ed Africa Fer­til­iz­er and Soil Health Sum­mit in Nairo­bi. Iron­i­cal­ly, the impor­tant sum­mit unfold­ed along­side Kenya’s con­tro­ver­sial fake fer­til­iz­er scan­dal. Infact, our Agri­cul­ture Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary was notably absent from the ses­sions as he was extreme­ly busy defend­ing him­self before a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing the scan­dal. After numer­ous ses­sions, it became clear that agribusi­ness could trans­form farm­ing in Africa into a sus­tain­able liveli­hood for mil­lions. The sum­mit pro­vid­ed a clear roadmap to sig­nif­i­cant­ly enhance agribusi­ness across the con­ti­nent, promis­ing food secu­ri­ty and eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty. But how exact­ly can we make this a reality?

First­ly, as African nations, we aim to triple the pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion of both organ­ic and inor­gan­ic fer­til­iz­ers by 2034. By focus­ing on local pro­duc­tion, we reduce our depen­den­cy on inter­na­tion­al mar­kets, mak­ing afford­able inputs avail­able to small­hold­er farm­ers. This sta­bi­lizes our agri­cul­tur­al base and cre­ates oppor­tu­ni­ties for local employ­ment and innovation.

Sec­ond­ly, revers­ing degra­da­tion on 30% of our lands will involve employ­ing inte­grat­ed soil and water con­ser­va­tion tech­niques. This crit­i­cal step not only enhances pro­duc­tiv­i­ty but also aligns with envi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion efforts and bol­sters our resilience against cli­mate change, ensur­ing sus­tain­able agri­cul­tur­al practices.

Third­ly, sol­id finan­cial back­ing and sup­port­ive poli­cies are essen­tial. The Africa Fer­til­iz­er Financ­ing Mech­a­nism will enhance the infra­struc­ture need­ed to meet our fer­til­iz­er pro­duc­tion goals, while pol­i­cy har­mo­niza­tion ensures these ambi­tious tar­gets are met efficiently.

Fourth­ly, although not high­light­ed in the summit’s rec­om­men­da­tions, strength­en­ing biose­cu­ri­ty mea­sures by strict­ly mon­i­tor­ing imports, espe­cial­ly of used vehi­cles and equip­ment, is cru­cial. The Inter­na­tion­al Stan­dards for Phy­tosan­i­tary Mea­sures (ISPM 41) was estab­lished to man­age the risks asso­ci­at­ed with these imports, requir­ing strin­gent clean­ing and treat­ment to pre­vent the intro­duc­tion of pests. Adher­ing to ISPM 41 is essen­tial for pro­tect­ing our crops and soils, ensur­ing the longevi­ty and effi­ca­cy of our agri­cul­tur­al efforts.

Fifth, engag­ing the youth in agribusi­ness not only taps into their reser­voir of inno­va­tion and ener­gy but also cul­ti­vates a future adept in mod­ern agri­cul­tur­al prac­tices. By chan­nel­ing edu­ca­tion­al and finan­cial resources toward young farm­ers and eco­pre­neurs, we empow­er a gen­er­a­tion poised to nav­i­gate and excel in the com­plex­i­ties of soil sci­ence and fer­til­iz­er man­age­ment. Intrigu­ing­ly, with over 60% of Africa’s pop­u­la­tion under 25 and agri­cul­ture account­ing for 23% of sub-Saha­ran Africa’s GDP, har­ness­ing this demo­graph­ic’s poten­tial could sig­nif­i­cant­ly dri­ve eco­nom­ic growth and inno­va­tion in agri­cul­ture. This strate­gic focus is vital for trans­form­ing agribusi­ness into a field that is both lucra­tive and sus­tain­able, appeal­ing to the entre­pre­neur­ial spir­it of young Africans.

Inno­v­a­tive financ­ing is cru­cial for equip­ping Africa’s food sys­tems to effec­tive­ly address future chal­lenges like rapid pop­u­la­tion growth and cli­mate change. These strate­gies are key to adap­ta­tion efforts. More­over, the African Devel­op­ment Bank fore­casts that Africa’s agribusi­ness sec­tor, dri­ven by local inno­va­tions and invest­ments, could reach US$1 tril­lion by 2030.

Our strat­e­gy calls for uni­ty among gov­ern­ment offi­cials, pri­vate sec­tor lead­ers, and farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties. By work­ing togeth­er, we aim to trans­form the ambi­tious goals of the Nairo­bi Dec­la­ra­tion into real ben­e­fits for everyone.

Every Kenyan and African must engage as we progress. Unit­ed, we can ground our eco­nom­ic growth in agribusi­ness. It’s time to act bold­ly, set­ting the stage for a pros­per­ous agri­cul­tur­al future.

The Nairo­bi Dec­la­ra­tion on Africa Fer­til­iz­er and Soil Health Sum­mit in Nairo­bi endorsed by var­i­ous heads of state pro­vides a sol­id foun­da­tion for build­ing a strong, agribusi­ness-led econ­o­my. Let’s seize this oppor­tu­ni­ty to turn plans into action and trans­form our agri­cul­tur­al land­scape into a thriv­ing real­i­ty across the con­ti­nent. Above all integri­ty must be our guid­ing star. Twende kazi! Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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