The Soils of Africa: A Forgotten Resource

Saturday, 15 February 2014: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Toronto (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
In most people’s minds, soil does not rank highly in the list of Africa's natural resources. However, healthy and fertile soils are the cornerstones of food security, key environmental services, social cohesion, and the economies of most African countries. Unfortunately, soil tends only to reach public awareness when it fails—often with catastrophic consequences, as seen by the famine episodes of the Sahel in the 1980s and more recently in Niger and the Horn of Africa. Regrettably, soil is also taken for granted by most politicians and decision-makers. In reality, Africa has some of the most fertile land on the planet, but in general most of the soils are fragile, often lacking in essential nutrients and organic matter. A population of over 1 billion people and growing, aridity and desertification affecting more than half of land surface, conflicting or competing demands on the use of the land (e.g., cash crops, biofuel, ecological reserves, carbon sequestration, mineral extraction, and urban expansion), and high levels of rural poverty and climate change are providing intense and increasing pressures on the remaining soils.
Geraldine Barry, European Commission, Joint Research Center
Luca Montanarella, European Commission, Joint Research Center
Arwyn Jones, European Commission, Joint Research Center
The Soil Atlas of Africa: Raising Awareness of a Neglected Resource
Ronald Vargas, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
The Global Soil Partnership: An African Perspective on Land Management
Martin Yemefack, Institute of Agricultural Research for Development
Preserving Soil Fertility and Ensuring Food Security