Mineral fertilizers in the farming systems of sub-Saharan Africa. A review uri icon

abstract

  • In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), traditional farming methods have led to severe nutrient depletion, low crop yields, and poverty, leaving many farm families disappointed. The situation is aggravated by low use of fertilizers by farmers, lack of policy and institutional support, weak fertilizer markets, farmers' lack of access to credit and inputs, inappropriate fertilizer packaging sizes, deteriorating soil science capacity, and weak agricultural extension. This leads to a huge gap between the actual and potential crop yields and widespread poverty. Opportunities, options, and innovations are available to turn around this situation and reduce poverty in Africa. We reviewed the status of agricultural soils of sub-Saharan Africa, the factors contributing to their current status, and the existing and emerging opportunities for addressing the soil fertility challenges. The major points are (1) the soils in SSA have continued to be characterized by huge and widespread negative nutrient imbalances and low productivity, and (2) the factors contributing to declining soil fertility in Africa are not abating. The way forward includes: balanced fertilization; input-output market development; improved crop management, and the use of nutrient budgets to inform policy and ensure that farmers and other land managers enjoy the profitable use of farm inputs including mineral fertilizers and agro-minerals.

publication date

  • 2012
  • 2012