Revitalizing Africa’s Agriculture – Repurposing Fertilizer Subsidies for Healthier Soils

A side-event at the Africa Fertilizer & Soil Health Summit

7 May 2024
14:00-15:30 EAT
The Lawns (Tent 4), Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Nairobi, Kenya

About The Event

Join us at the AFSH Summit to delve into the imperative of repurposing policies for enhanced soil health, productivity, and farmer livelihoods. Discover actionable insights and collaborative pathways to transform Africa’s agricultural landscape sustainably.

In many countries in Southern and Eastern Africa (ESA), input subsidy schemes are common, most focusing on inorganic fertilizers. These schemes, however, often do not achieve their food security objectives. This is because soil health is in decline, partly due to years of non-targeted inorganic fertilizer use and the absence of measures to improve soil fertility by other means. This raises the question of whether policies need to be repurposed; should fertilizer input subsidy policies be modified or replaced by policies that incentivize sustainable soil management practices and boost agricultural productivity?

Many of the soils in the region come with challenges for crop cultivation as they are highly weathered, prone to acidity, low in organic matter, and often inherently nutrient-poor. Furthermore, farming practices are, in general, applying insufficient nutrients, leading to further nutrient depletion. Inorganic fertilizers are important but must be part of a package of wider public support measures. One explanation for the generally poor outcomes of fertilizer use is that the budgetary focus on inorganic fertilizer crowds out the needed support for other agricultural and rural services, thus the need for a “repurposing” agenda. Solutions to soil health decline. These solutions include various combinations of fallowing, crop diversification, intercropping and crop rotations, soil organic matter additions, liming, and applications of the appropriate inorganic fertilizers. Soil health solutions have positive outcomes for food security, nutrition and climate change adaptation and mitigation. However, many of the practices come with significant socio-economic and technical challenges (e.g., land too small for rotations, lack of sufficient organic materials).

Innovative institutional, technical and financial solutions can support the uptake of soil health practices among farmers in the region. Financial incentives, through compensating farmers for soil health services (so-called Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES)) can generate a multitude of private and public benefits. So far, however, not much emphasis has been placed on soil health with such PES mechanisms.

This side event explores the need to repurpose polices to enhance soil health, productivity and incomes, and in particular examines PES as a mechanism through showcasing the CompensACTION initiative and a pilot scheme in Malawi. Further, it will analyze the opportunities for implementing such soil health related PES schemes within Kenya’s policy frameworks and for scaling-up. Finally, the side event will provide insights from research that support the scaling up of action on soil health.

Can’t make it in person? Tune in via livestream HERE.

Event objective

  • Advocate for repurposing policy support to incentivize soil health practices
  • Showcase the implementation of Payments for Soil Health Services in Malawi as a blueprint for regional subsidy repurposing
  • Analyze Kenya’s policy frameworks for potential PES initiatives like CompensACTION to incentivize soil conservation
  • Highlight groundbreaking research and innovations supporting soil health policy initiatives
  • Present farmers’ perspectives on the relevance of soil health practices, challenges in implementation, and the role of PES schemes in driving uptake

Co – hosts