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Sub-Saharan African Soil Experts Mark Int’l Year Of Soils

Isaiah Onwuanumba

An African Soil Partnership consultation workshop was organised for West Africa recently in Ghana with the objective to identify regional priorities for sustainable soil management, according to a report by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representatives from 35 countries in the region actively participated and planned the way forward of this partnership. According to Mr. Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, “Soil perform fundamental roles for human well-being; it is the foundation for food and nutrition security, sustainable development and climate change adaptation and mitigation”.

The AfSP and its plan should facilitate links with national and local soil management programmes and activities with a view to strengthening work on soils and to develop synergies with other relevant initiatives and activities to ensure that the partnership process is country-driven. ‘There is the need to address climate change and developing resilience towards climate change adaptation, establish linkages and networks with other national, regional and global initiatives that impact soil health’, said the Deputy Regional Representative and FAO Representative to Ghana, Dr Lamourdia Thiombiano.

As for Mr. Ronald Vargas, Land Officer and GSP Secretariat of the FAO, he believes that the promotion of sustainable soil management in the region will constitute a vehicle to sustained prosperity. The African Soil Partnership is maturing and now a sound regional plan developed by African experts will guide the implementation of key actions. These priorities are being expanded under various aspects to develop a regional Implementation Plan for the next five years, in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Participants also consolidated the African Soil Partnership (AFSP) by establishing a steering committee and working groups as per the Regional Soil Partnerships guidelines, and to review and finalise the AfSP Implementation Plan and discuss the way forward. The African Soil Partnership (AfSPRSPs) was launched in early 2013, with events in Accra, Ghana and Nairobi, Kenya.

During the launch events, participants discussed the country needs and priorities for promoting sustainable soil management nationally, as well as the research priorities in terms of soil research for development. A Communiqué on the consolidation of the African Soil Partnership (AFSP), African Soil Partnership institutional mechanism (including steering committee and working groups), African Soil Partnership Implementation Plan was developed by the participants.

The 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, has declared 2015 the International Year of Soils (IYS) with the overall goal of being a major platform for raising awareness of the importance of soils in terms of food security, nutrition and essential ecosystem services. In connection to this, workshop participants planned a number of regional and national events during this year and considered actions beyond 2015 to keep soils in the agenda.

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