African leaders rally for affordable fertiliser amidst Kenyas Agriculture CS Linturi ouster

As the Africa Fertiliser and Soil Health summit drew to a close in Nairobi, a unanimous commitment echoed among leaders spanning the continent: the urgent need for accessible fertiliser for small-scale farmers.

With the participation of more than five heads of state, alongside esteemed dignitaries and stakeholders, the summit convened to address pressing agricultural issues, foremost among them being the enhancement of soil health.

However, amidst these discussions, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi found himself under intense scrutiny within the National Assembly, facing allegations of corruption and malpractice, particularly surrounding the distribution of counterfeit fertiliser.

In response to mounting pressure from farmers demanding transparency and effective delivery of subsidised fertiliser, Linturi appeared before a select committee at the National Assembly, which is currently investigating his impeachment motion.

Culminating in the Nairobi Declaration on Fertiliser and Soil Health, the African Heads of State and Government concluded the three-day summit by emphasizing the imperative to rejuvenate the nutritional balance of the continent’s depleted soils.

Central to the Nairobi Declaration was the ambitious goal of tripling domestic production and distribution of certified quality organic and inorganic fertilisers by 2034, with the aim of enhancing accessibility and affordability for smallholder farmers.

Furthermore, the declaration advocated for bolstering support to natural gas-producing member states to ramp up fertiliser production, ensuring its availability at stable prices.

“We advocate for the full operationalisation of the Africa Fertiliser Financing Mechanism to enhance the production, procurement, and distribution of organic and inorganic fertilisers, alongside soil health interventions,” stated the declaration.

Additionally, leaders emphasized the importance of formulating and implementing policies and regulations conducive to fertiliser and soil health interventions, coupled with the development and promotion of locally relevant capacity-building initiatives for fertiliser and soil health management practices and technologies.

Moreover, the declaration stressed the necessity of ensuring that at least 70 per cent of smallholder farmers have access to quality extension and advisory services on fertiliser and soil health, both from public and private extension systems.

In pursuit of these objectives, the summit endorsed a 10-year action plan for Fertiliser and Soil Health, alongside the Africa Financing Mechanism (AFFM) for the Action Plan, and the Soil Initiative for Africa framework, representing concerted long-term endeavors to systematically enhance Africa’s soil health and productivity.

Under the theme “Listen to the Land,” the summit facilitated discussions on the current state of Africa’s soils, aiming to implement urgent and tailored restorative measures.

With over 4,000 participants in attendance, including 57 ministers of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs, as well as leaders from government, academia, private sector, and civil society, the summit served as a pivotal platform for collaborative action.

President William Ruto emphasized the imperative of enhancing last-mile logistics for fertiliser distribution and building farmers’ capacities for effective fertiliser use and soil health improvement, underscoring Africa’s vast potential as a global food producer.

He advocated for prioritizing investments in nitrogen fertiliser production facilities and implementing mechanisms for real-time tracking of fertiliser market trends to ensure timely availability. Additionally, he stressed the need for sustainable strategies to make fertilisers more affordable and accessible.