Poster103: Arresting hunger and environmental degradation in Sub-saharan Africa: Developing a dynamic and globally integrated African Soil Information Service AfSIS

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Poster for CIAT 2009 Knowledge Sharing Week

Poster for CIAT 2009 Knowledge Sharing Week

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  • 1. Arresting Hunger and Environmental Degradation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Developing a Dynamic and Globally Integrated African Soil Information Service (AfSIS) Peter Okoth, Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute (CIAT-TSBF) | ICRAF Complex, UN Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi P.O. Box 30677-00100 | Nairobi, Kenya | Tel: 254-20-7224775 Foreseen Impact • To contribute to increase to increased crop yields for • Provide an accurate and approximately 1 to 2 million spatially explicit soil database poor African households for 42 African countries to guide • To build African institutions policy and action to enhance to be able to map, Africa’s soil productivity disseminate and use soils • Contribute to the reversal of soil information to plan natural An Information Solution The Global Framework degradation in Africa through resource management in The AfSIS maps are being developed from a non- tested soil fertility management their countries targeted by traditional method where 60 continental sampling ASIS will be developed within the framework of a Global Digital Soil Map Consortium, which will be recommendations AfSIS sites have been randomly selected to cover the entire formed and led by ISRIC. ASIS will thus catalyze Sub-Saharan Africa countries for sound statistical and form part of a wider initiative to digitally map data collection and modeling of the soil properties some 80 percent of the world’s soil resources. across the continent where soils samples may not have been collected. The method offers an objective One of the first key tasks will be to establish a set The Sahelian Drylands method of mapping soils and modeling their of common standards for storing, documenting and Area: 1.2 million km2 properties that provides an opportunity for scientific distributing soil data. Among other tasks, experts Population: 38 million validation and monitoring in a surveillance system. will be to develop norms for consistently evaluating Millet & sorghum belt: 23 million ha key soil properties, such as its capacity to provide The main difference between the approach proposed nutrients and hold water. Mali here and those used in the past is the use of surveillance Nigeria concepts similar to those used in the public health sector. We consider soils to be healthy when they Building a Cyber-Infrastructure are capable of delivering essential provisioning, Humid Forest Zone Kenya Moist Savanna and regulating and supporting ecosystem services (as Area: 5.8 million km2 Woodland Zones Another major step will be to develop the data Area: 4.4 million km2 defined in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment) on Population: 168 million management systems required to make ASIS (and Population: 157 million a sustained basis. We define soil health surveillance Cassava belt: 18 million ha Tanzania eventually the global service) available via the Maize belt: 32 million ha as: the ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, NERICA potential: 2 million ha Internet. CA potential: 7 million ha and interpretation of data essential to planning, Malawi implementation, and evaluation of soil management N One especially useful source of data will be that policy and practice, which is closely integrated with W E gathered through infrared spectroscopy, using the timely dissemination and application of data that S procedures developed by the World Agroforestry is used for prevention and control of soil degradation. 0 1000 2000 Center. Based on the interaction of electromagnetic kilometers energy with matter, this technology has proved to be AfSIS Sentinel Sampling a quite reliable and cost-effective means of rapidly determining soil health. • ~17.5 million km2 of Our aim: degradation prevention, productivity continental SSA • ~0.6 million km2 of With such data, the project can then engage actively increase & restoration Madagascar • Spatially stratified random in digital soil mapping. This is the creation of spatially sampling approach consisting referenced information (that is, information linked of 60 sites Each 100 km2 • 42 countries with 95% of to a specific pixel on a satellite image) about soil human population properties, based on statistical sampling of soils • ~9,600 new geo-referenced soil profiles across particular landscapes. The resulting high- • 38,000 individual soil resolution maps will cover some 18 million square samples kilometers in Africa, representing geographically both soil capacities and constraints (like aluminum toxicity, a common debilitating feature of acid soils, Management recommendations which are widespread in the tropics). Much of the power of these maps lies in their ability, based on The gradual spread of improved crop varieties computer models, to predict soil degradation at across Africa has opened up new possibilities for locations where direct observations of soil properties accelerating agricultural productivity growth. But as may not have been made. The maps will thus be long as soil fertility remains low, small farmers will highly useful for planning, implementing and derive only partial benefits from the new varieties, evaluating efforts to enhance soil management and and they will have weak incentives to improve their for targeting such efforts to particular places. management of another critical resource – water. In recent years, soil scientists in Africa have developed Partnerships and outreach and validated a new approach for improving soil AfSIS is being implemented through a grant provided health, which is referred to as integrated soil fertility by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the management (ISFM). It involves the practical Alliance for a Green revolution in Africa to the combination of inorganic fertilizers with organic International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). inputs to raise agricultural production while Introduction: Africa’s Soil Health Crisis enhancing natural resources. ISFM considers not just The implementation is being coordinated by the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility (TSBF) institute of the technical aspects of soil management, but also CIAT based in Nairobi. Partners in the project include Soil degradation represents a major obstacle to arresting hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, because it impedes its economic, social and policy dimensions. About the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the World much-needed increases in agricultural productivity. About 500 million hectares of sub-Saharan Africa’s 100 trials will be conducted in sites targeting across Soil Information (ISRIC) at Wageningen University agricultural land are moderately or severely degraded. The problem is rapidly getting worse because Africa agro-ecological variations from the Sahelian in The Netherlands and the Nairobi-based World of increasing pressure on the land – a result of growing populations and food demand, combined with Drylands of West Africa, The Sudano-Sahelian Zone Agroforestry Center. AfSIS will work in partnership extremely low use of inorganic fertilizers and of organic sources of plant nutrients. On average, African also of Western Africa, through the Humid Forest with national agricultural research programs across farmers are able to apply only 10 percent of the nutrients that farmers in the rest of the world return to the Zones of Central Africa all the way to the Moist Africa, including the establishment of regional soil soil. That helps explain why soils in southwestern Kenya, for example, lose an estimated 100 kilograms Savanna’s and Woodland Zones of Eastern Africa. health laboratories in Tanzania, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, of nitrogen per hectare each year. and Malawi. The yield gap and the limitations that cause it Biophysical limitations Literature has it that Africa’s soils are among the poorest in the world. It is also documented that fifty-five Potential - Soil fertility An aggressive program of dissemination and capacity - Water percent of the land in Africa is unsuitable for any kind of cultivated agriculture except nomadic grazing. yield - Variety, etc strengthening will ensure that AfSIS is readily available While about 30% of the population (or about 250 million) live in or depend on deserts (including salt (Experimentation) Yield gap Socio economic and to diverse users, ranging from farmer associations policy limitations flats, dunes and rock lands as well as steep to very steep lands) for survival. It is estimated that the Actual - Knowledge and extension services to research institutes and - Credit continent loses the equivalent of over $4 billion worth of soil nutrients each year, severely limiting its yield - Availability policy makers. ability to feed itself. Which inputs are lacking? Why inputs are not used? Across the continent, farmers face a variety of constraints, including low productivity, limited access to new agricultural technologies and weak markets. Without adequate inputs, farmers often cannot meet A Globally Integrated African Soil Information Service (AfSIS): Donors and Partners the food needs of their own families, much less those of a rapidly growing population. To feed themselves and their countries, farmers will need to shift from low-yielding, extensive land-use practices to more intensive, higher yielding practices, with increased use of improved seeds, fertilizers and irrigation. Currently, majority of the smallholder farmers in Africa neither have access to nor can afford the fertilizers or other inputs needed to add life to their soils. In Africa, use of fertilizer averages only eight kilograms per hectare, which is just 10% of the world average per hectare. No region of the world has been able to expand agricultural growth rates, and thus tackle hunger, without increasing fertilizer use. http://www.Africasoils.net