International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. P.O. Box 2008 (Messa) Yaounde
Depletion of soil fertility constitutes one of the most important constraints to sustainable agricultural production, causing low per capita food production in Africa. Inappropriate soil fertility management, further increases loss of productivity of resource-poor farmers and affects their food security and livelihood. Large areas of most sub-Saharan African soils have low inherent fertility and do not receive adequate nutrient replenishment. Preserving soil fertility and enhancing productivity through appropriate soil management and conservation can play a major role in achieving farm household food security and agricultural development. This paper explores conceptual approaches to increasing food security and poverty alleviation in Africa through the replenishment of soil fertility as an investment in natural resource capital, and to outline the elements of strategies for its implementation. It highlights some successful experiences in the region, constraints and possible solutions specific to the major agro-ecological zones and the importance of holistic and participatory approaches for soil productivity improvement. Some specific aspects are concerned with Implementing development projects to scale-up fertility replenishment practices, Developing projects focusing on key bottlenecks such as the access to rock phosphate and the awareness and knowledge of the technology components, Developing policies that reduce the disparity between world market and the prices paid by African farmers for mineral fertilizers, Investing in community-based development projects that integrate the agriculture, education, and health sectors.