New life is coming to Africa's degraded soils. Across the drylands of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger smallholder farmers are combining the use of fertilizer microdosing and techniques such as crop rotation with legumes to improve yields by up to 130 percent. The AGRA-funded program is environmentally sustainable and economically affordable to the hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers who stand to benefit. It is a vivid example of the critical importance of soil health to Africa's Green Revolution.
Africa's soils are in trouble. Continuous farming without replenishing soil nutrients has depleted three-quarters of farmland. Without access to fertilizers and organic matter in adequate amounts, farmers' yields have long stagnated. Thus, restoring soil fertility will allow Africa's smallholder farmers to grow more food on existing farmland and to protect a vital natural resource.
About Soil Health Program
Funded in its first phase (2008-2013) by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, SHP is designed to reach at least 4 million smallholders over this timeframe. The Program is rolling out large-scale, 3-year projects that aim to reach between 20,000 and 120,000 farmers each. As of end of June 2011, 66 grants worth USD 50.4M have been awarded in 13 sub-Saharan Africa countries, with just over half of them focused on deploying proven ISFM innovations.