KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says African governments should promote soil management to boost food productivity and economic growth on the continent.
FAO African regional office land and water officer Eugene Rurangwa said Africa has potential to produce crops three times a year if soils are properly managed.
Mr Rurangwa said the low yields, which have been recorded in the past on the continent are below international stands.
He said this in a statement availed to the Daily Mail last week.
“In most African countries, poor soil quality carries part of the culpability for low yields, and that soil erosion, rising salt levels, acidification and chemical pollution are all to blame for the depletion of soil nutrients,” he said.
To that effect, FAO has drawn up a three-pronged strategy to deal with the problem that has been adopted by many governments.
The strategy should have policies that include soil management into governance structures and policies, investing in soil research and promoting education in soil management.
Mr Rurangwa said these policies should be implemented by African governments like Zambia to increase yields.
He said Zambia was a net maize importer in 2007, but has increased the amount of land dedicated to maize cultivation by 800,000 hectares and is likely to become a net exporter in the region.
FAO estimates that global agricultural production needs to rise by 60 percent to cope with rising food demand, including a 100 percent increase in Africa hence the need for governments to promote soil management to boost food productivity and economic growth.
And Soil Science Society of Nigeria national president Victor Chude said most African soils are losing their fertility because farmers are not using enough fertilisers.