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APPSA Scientists Showcase Pioneering Work at Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit in Nairobi

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Lerato Matheka

The Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit, held from May 7th to 9th, 2024,  in Kenya, Nairobi under the unifying theme “Listen to the Land,” marked a significant milestone in the continent’s agricultural development journey. 

This summit according to the The Department of Agricultural Research Lesotho served as a follow-up to the 2006 Abuja Declaration, aiming to boost fertilizer use and stimulate agricultural productivity growth across Africa with the ambitious goal to increase fertilizer usage to at least 50 kg/ha, a significant leap from the current average of 18 kg/ha.

Highlighting Scientific Innovation

The Center for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) facilitated the exhibition of soil-related research activities spearheaded by scientists under the Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa (APPSA). 

The second phase of APPSA, involving countries like Lesotho and Angola, was prominently represented, showcasing cutting-edge scientific work. 

APPSA Subprojects on Display

The department indicated that scientists from Lesotho and Angola showcased several impactful subprojects, including:

  • Promotion of Vegetable Production Under Intercropping Systems: This project explores the benefits of intercropping in different agro-ecological zones of Lesotho and Angola, aiming to enhance vegetable yield and soil health.
  • Regenerative Agriculture for Soil Quality and Potato Production: Focused on rainfed conditions, this project investigates regenerative agricultural practices to improve soil quality and boost potato production.
  • Improved Management Practices for Sorghum and Pearl Millet: This project promotes the adoption of advanced agricultural practices to increase the production of sorghum and pearl millet in both countries.
  • Biochar and Fire Impact on Soil Fertility: This research assesses the effects of biochar and fire on soil fertility and the production of maize and beans under various farming systems.

Engaging with the Scientific Community

Principal Investigators (PIs) and Co-PIs from APPSA Lesotho (4) and Angola (4) showcased their groundbreaking work, including:

  • Vermicompost for Soil Fertility: Demonstrating how vermicompost can significantly enhance soil fertility.
  • Biochar for Soil Improvement: Highlighting the benefits of using biochar to improve soil quality.
  • Moisture Probe Metres: Using advanced moisture probe metres to accurately determine soil moisture content, crucial for optimising water usage in farming.

“The summit provided a vibrant platform for the scientists to engage with their peers, farmers, non-governmental organisations, and international participants,” the department noted, saying over 500 information print materials detailing both Lesotho and Angola’s scientific work were distributed, spreading knowledge and sparking conversations on innovative agricultural practices.

“The CCARDESA-APPSA stall attracted several dignitaries, including the Ministers of Agriculture from both Lesotho and Angola, who expressed their admiration for the scientific advancements on display,” the department reported. 

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