Africa Soil Health Consortium takes off
ASHC Newsletter – August 2011
The economies of most African countries are based on agriculture. However, production and productivity in most sub-Saharan countries remain low. An increase in agricultural productivity will address both the challenge of poverty and hunger of rural people, and benefit the growing numbers of urban poor who have to buy food. A key contributor to low agricultural productivity is low inherent soil fertility.
The Africa Soil Health Consortium project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and coordinated by CABI, the international science and agriculture organization.
The project aims to improve knowledge on IFSM at all levels of society in both public and private sectors. From policy makers to university lecturers, extension workers, input suppliers and the farmers themselves, in order for ISFM to contribute to improve livelihoods. We have already put together a multidisciplinary ASHC team composed of a manager, a soil scientist (cropping systems), a monitoring and evaluation specialist from the International Centre for Soil Improvement and Agricultural Development (IFDC), communication specialists and a technical editor. Also involved are a policy formulation expert and a gender specialist from the UK’s Overseas Development Institute.
The team is already developing productive relationships with the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), various research and development initiatives, agro-dealers and farmers in different countries, among other partners. As a result we had a successful field visit to meet stakeholders in various East and Central African countries in April, hosted the project’s inaugural workshop in May, and have started developing an ISFM handbook and other dissemination materials.
The ASHC team looks forward to working with these and other partners to produce materials that will not only promote awareness of ISFM but also encourage its adoption.