18th Ruforum Annual General Meeting 2022: Bringing Our Soils Back: Enhancing Soil Health and Fragile Ecosystem Management in the Middle East and Africa
The maintenance of soil health is essential for biomass production, maintenance of biodiversity, reduced pollution of soils & fresh waters, provision of the physical basis for infrastructure development, preservation of cultural heritage, the sustenance of the food value chains and for ensuring environmental sustainability (Blum, 2005). This is particularly important for the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region which has been experiencing slow progress towards food security due to the low productivity of its agricultural systems & food value chains, high demographic pressure, political instability, among others. Beyond the African region, the Middle East, given its geographic location and arid climate conditions, is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate stresses such as rising temperatures and water scarcity. Further, the majority of agricultural ecosystems in both Africa and the Middle East continue to experience steady declines in soil fertility due to continued nutrient mining, soil erosion and poor soil management. Soil health sustainability therefore remains the centerpiece in the life of SSA and Middle East food systems. Without addressing soil health issues, smallholder farmers cannot equitably benefit from yield gains offered by improved plant genetics and other agronomic practices.