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AU calls for use of political means to address food sovereignty challenges

African Union Commission Moussa Faki

African leaders have been urged to use necessary political means to address the challenges to food sovereignty.

Agriculture remains a strategic and key lever for Continental industrialization and the creation of jobs that are vital for development, stability and prosperity. 

Speaking at the Africa Fertiliser and Soil Health Summit at Kenya International Conference Centre in Nairobi Kenya, African Union Commission Moussa Faki told leaders to harness Africa collective determination and resources in addressing soil health and fertilizer use in a holistic manner if Africa is to achieve sustainable food systems.

“Our strategic frameworks are in place and we have the capacity to work together to produce the fertilizers and other agricultural inputs that we need.” Said Faki.

He regretted how Africa is experiencing accelerated soil degradation, through desertification and floods often alternatively -either droughts or floods which in turn reduce the production and productivity in the African agricultural sector.

Faki however said the current pace of soil degradation in Africa has attained a threshold which requires proactive attention and action from all, to halt the degradation and commence effective soil health management.

“What is clear is that Africa’s agricultural production capacity falls way below global norms. Equally important are the causes of soil health degradation on the Continent.” He noted.

He reiterated AU’s commitment to address the issues of soil health in all African countries saying the determination is what led the Commission to develop the Soil Initiative for Africa (SIA) and the Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Action Plan. 

“While the Soil Initiative for Africa is a long-term framework aligned with our Agenda 2063, the Action Plan is the 10-year implementation plan.” Faki noted.

While acknowledging that fertilisers constitute a critical input for productivity when properly used according to accepted scientific norms, he noted that in terms of fertiliser use, Africa is below the global average and the target set by African Heads of State and Government in 2006 where they endorsed the Abuja declaration on Fertilizers for a Green Revolution in Africa, with a target of 50 kilograms per hectare per year. 

Eighteen years later, the average fertilizer use rate stands at about 18 kilograms, less than half of the target set in 2006. 

“Some African countries produce fertilizers but we depend mostly on imported fertilizers, making them very expensive for our farmers. Yet the African Center for Fertilizer Development based in Zimbabwe has been in existence since the 1980’s.” He said. 

Adding that: “We must optimise use of such existing Continental assets to boost local fertilizer production and deliver quality fertilizers to African farmers at affordable prices. This is imperative if we are to improve the Continent’s agricultural sector, key for our food sovereignty and security. These investments should also be reflected in our national budgets.”

He said there was need to renew strong political will by Member States through the mobilization of domestic resources to reflect the priority of the agricultural sector as defined in Malabo.

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