Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Project to intensify agricultural production in Great Lakes -- Africa's most impoverished region

13.12.2006
IFDC and Netherlands launch project for soil health in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, DR Congo

The Netherlands Government is launching a project to promote peace and environmental stability by improving soil health, intensifying farm production, and increasing trade in one of the world's poorest areas: the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa.

The highest population density in Africa is in the Great Lakes Region: Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, western Tanzania, and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"The Great Lakes region already has far more people than its fragile soils can support," says Dr. Amit Roy, CEO of IFDC, An International Center for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development. IFDC will implement the 5-year project.

"The region faces perpetual crises of poverty, social instability, war, and environmental degradation. The situation is rapidly worsening as deforestation intensifies and its soils are starved of nutrients."

Tiny Rwanda is typical. More than 340 persons are packed into each square kilometer, and population is growing by almost 3% annually. Almost all of Rwanda's population are subsistence farmers. Using existing technology, food production can be increased only by clearing and farming the ecologically important wetlands or, worse, the last relicts of parks and reserves, including habitats of mountain gorillas and other endangered wildlife and plants.

The region is the watershed for the Nile and Congo, two of the world's greatest rivers. Rapid deforestation and soil "mining," or depletion of plant nutrients, have caused severe soil erosion and decreased the soil's capacity to absorb and hold water. That, in turn, decreases the stability of the Nile and Congo's water flow downriver.

The CATALIST Project

The Netherlands Government, through the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in Rwanda, has committed €22 million (US $28 million) to the project Catalyzing Acceleration of Agricultural Intensification for Stability and Sustainability (CATALIST). The Dutch Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGIS) is providing another €1.5 million ($1.9 million) through the Strategic Alliance for Agricultural Development in Africa (SAADA).

The CATALIST project will help maintain biodiversity, improve environmental management, intensify agricultural productivity, and develop markets for both agricultural inputs and the crops that poor farmers produce, in the Great Lakes region.Local people, refugees, and demobilized ex-combatants will be employed in labor-intensive public works to plant trees and build terraces and roads. The goal is to accelerate economic growth, reduce poverty, and promote peace and stability, partly by establishing or strengthening the capacities of farmer and agri-input dealer organizations. IFDC will work through farmers' organizations, several national and international NGOs, the private sector, donors, and other consortia.

Dr. Henk Breman, an IFDC agronomist and environmental specialist with two decades of experience working with African farmers, arrived in Rwanda to launch the project in early October.

"Soil nutrient depletion in the Great Lakes region is among the world's highest," Breman says. "From 80 to 135 kilograms of plant nutrients are lost from each hectare of land yearly—and the use of mineral fertilizers, which can replenish those lost plant nutrients, is among the world's lowest."

Most of the Great Lakes population survives on less than US $0.65 a day, says Dr. Balu Bumb, IFDC Economist and Program Leader for Policy, Trade, and Markets. The average farm size is less than 1 hectare. There are few alternatives to farming for rural employment. Few yield-increasing technologies, such as improved seeds, have been introduced. Fertilizer use is 3-4 kilograms per hectare (kg/ha). In comparison, the world use is 93 kg/ha, and farmers in the "Green Revolution" countries of Asia use 100 to 150 kg/ha.

"Agricultural markets are underdeveloped and fragmented in the Great Lakes region," Bumb says. "The project will strengthen markets for agricultural inputs and outputs by providing training for agri-input dealers and farmers' organizations. We'll also encourage partnerships between the public and private sectors to produce and market seeds, and to integrate fertilizer markets regionally."

The CATALIST project will holistically encompass areas in which IFDC has considerable experience and will work in a participatory manner with farmers and other stakeholders, "catalyzing" and facilitating stakeholder collaboration.

Farmers will be trained in integrated soil fertility management—the use of mineral fertilizers along with soil amendments such as crop residues, green and animal manures, and lime.

"The soil amendments interact with mineral fertilizers to improve soil quality, including the organic matter content, pH, and nutrient availability," Breman says. "That improves the efficiency—and thus, the profitability—of fertilizer use for smallholder farmers."

The Albertine Rift and Kagera River Basin

Agricultural intensification will be particularly important in the Albertine Rift and the Kagera River Basin, where social and environmental stability is most lacking.

The Albertine Rift, a steep mountain range with many volcanoes, stretches from the northern end of Lake Albert to the southern end of Lake Tanganyika, and borders the Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. Soils are generally fertile, rainfall is abundant, and temperatures drop rapidly with increasing altitudes. Conservation International has named the Albertine Rift one of the world's "biodiversity hot spots"—home to more mammals, birds, and amphibians than anywhere else in Africa. Part of the region is still covered by tropical rain forest.

The Kagera Basin is in the border area of Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania, and is the headwater of the White Nile. Elevation averages 1,200 meters. Rainfall is relatively low, temperatures are high, and most soils are infertile.

"Population pressure in the lower plateaus has forced wild animals to their last refuges—the Albertine Rift and the Kagera Basin—over the past 30 years," Breman says. "Then commercial farmers started growing coffee and tea in the easily accessible areas, and poverty forced small farmers to clear land in the more difficult areas. War in the 1990s forced millions of refugees into the Great Lakes region."

Today, the region is generally peaceful—but with peace, pastoral farmers from Uganda and Tanzania are bringing in large cattle and goat herds to graze on the already-depleted soils.

"These factors all threaten the last relicts of extremely rich—but fragile—ecosystems," Breman says. "We will help harmonize efforts to feed the growing population of the Great Lakes region, while preserving its rich biodiversity and the ecosystem."

Africa Fertilizer Summit

"Fertilizer use in sub-Saharan Africa is the world's lowest, averaging only 8 kilograms per hectare," IFDC's Amit Roy says. "Cereal yields in Africa have stagnated at about 1 ton per hectare for the past three decades, and per capita food production has decreased."

The largest and most comprehensive effort to address Africa's soil fertility crisis—the Africa Fertilizer Summit—was held June 9-13 in Abuja, Nigeria. Leading African and international policymakers and agricultural experts highlighted the significant challenges that African farmers face as a result of declining soil fertility, and the potential productivity gains from even modest fertilizer use.

Heads of state and governments of more than 40 African nations declared both mineral and organic fertilizers a "strategic commodity without borders"—meaning that all cross-border taxes and tariffs should be lifted—in the historic Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer for an African Green Revolution.

Thomas R. Hargrove | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ifdc.org
http://www.africafertilizersummit.org

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University

nachricht New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>