In the heart of Kenya’s agricultural landscape, a groundbreaking study unveiled during the World Soil Day summit in Nairobi has shed light on a critical issue – the agriculture sector realizing only 25% of its total potential yields. Despite playing a pivotal role in the nation’s food system and economy, the sector grapples with challenges that hinder its optimal productivity.
The Soil Health Challenge
Conducted by Food and Land Use (FOLU), the study identifies the rapid depletion of vital micro and macro nutrients in the soil as a major contributor to the sector’s under-performance. Phosphorus, essential for optimal plant growth and yields, is dwindling, impacting agricultural output significantly. Approximately 63% of Kenya’s arable land is affected by soil acidity, with only a meager 1-8% of farmers adopting suitable lime application to manage this acidity.
The compounding impact of climate change, marked by prolonged droughts and persistent rains leading to floods, amplifies the urgency for immediate action to rejuvenate soil health in Kenya’s food system.
A Call to Action
During the conference, Paul Ronoh, the PS of the State Department of Crop Development and Research, underscored the crucial connection between soil health and land use. He emphasized the need for collaborative efforts with multiple stakeholders to address soil health comprehensively, driving the transformation of the country’s food systems.
Ronoh stated, “Improving soil health through appropriate land use practices is vital for intensification of agriculture production, thus enhancing food security and protecting the environment.” The call for urgent action resonates as a strategic approach to establish a food system that not only nourishes its people but also safeguards the planet and fuels the economy.
Kenya’s Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan
The World Soil Day summit also witnessed the launch of the Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan 2024-2030. This comprehensive plan aims to build a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient food system for Kenya. Prioritizing key issues such as sustainable land use, productive and regenerative agriculture, healthy diets, reducing food loss and waste, and protecting and restoring nature, the plan outlines a roadmap for whole system transition through gender, youth, and social inclusion.
Five focal areas will guide the strategic plan:
- Healthy Diets
- Productive and Regenerative Agriculture
- Protecting and Restoring Nature
- Food Loss and Waste
- Youth and Social Inclusion
Hamadi Boga, Vice President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), commended the action plan. He emphasized that building on the momentum generated by a national consultative process, the evidence-based recommendations will propel the conversation on Kenya’s food system transformation.
A Resilient Future for Kenya’s Agriculture
As Kenya confronts the challenges limiting its agricultural potential, the call to address soil health emerges as a pivotal step. The collaborative efforts, strategic plans, and inclusive approaches outlined during the World Soil Day summit signify a collective commitment to unlock Kenya’s agricultural prowess. With a focus on sustainable practices and holistic transformation, the nation paves the way for a resilient future where its agriculture sector thrives and contributes significantly to food security and economic prosperity.
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