SAA Participates in the African Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit (AFSH)

SAA management and country directors posing in front of the AFSH logo at the summit
SAA management and country directors posing in front of the AFSH logo at the summit

A Unified Vision for Soil Health and Fertilizer Use 
The African Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit (AFSHS), held in Nairobi from May 7-9, 2024, brought together a wide array of stakeholders, including government officials, regional economic blocs, development partners, NGOs and private organizations, to address critical issues affecting agricultural productivity and sustainability in Africa. Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) played a pivotal role at the summit, highlighting innovative approaches to improve soil health and promote sustainable agricultural practices.
The summit opened with a critical assessment of Africa’s progress since the 2006 Abuja Declaration. Despite increasing fertilizer use from 8kg/ha to below 25kg/ha, the continent still lags behind the 50kg/ha target. AU Commissioner H.E. Amb. Joseffa Leonel Correia Sacko sounded the alarm on the dire state of African soils, calling for urgent, collaborative action. Kenya’s Prime Cabinet Secretary, H.E. Dr. Musalia Mudavadi, reinforced the continent's commitment to agricultural development, urging nations to allocate 10% of their budgets to agriculture and rural development.

SAA’s Side Event on Resilient Agri-Food Systems
In partnership with the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services ( AFAAS), the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) hosted a pivotal side event titled "Achieving Resilient Agri-Food Systems through Regenerative Agriculture in the Wake of Global Fertilizer Crises and Climate Change." The event addressed global fertilizer shortages and the escalating impacts of climate change, promoting regenerative agriculture as a solution for improving resilience and sustainability for African smallholder farmers.
The side event kicked off with opening remarks from Prof. Ruth Oniang’o, Honorary Advisor of SAA, who highlighted the pressing need for resilient agri-food systems in Africa in light of current global challenges. This set the stage for a series of insightful presentations and discussions.
Dr. David Nielson, Senior Advisor to the North American Agricultural Advisory Network (NAAAN), delivered a keynote address focusing on the critical role of soil health in reversing the decline in agricultural productivity across the continent. In his special address, Dr. Amit Roy, SAA Board Chair, emphasized the need to regenerate African soils to ensure food security through a judicious increase in fertilizer application combined with organic matter.   Following this, Dr. Stella Kabiri, Lead RA at SAA, shared SAA's experiences in promoting regenerative agriculture (RA) practices throughout Africa, demonstrating how these practices could enhance livelihoods and improve soil health.
Dr. Andre Bationo, Chief of Party for SAPEP, offered practical solutions to the fertilizer crisis by discussing the use of locally produced phosphate substitutes to reduce reliance on imported fertilizers in the Sahel region. Dr. Martin Fregene, Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industry at the African Development Bank (AfDB), emphasized the essential role of agricultural technologies, fertilizers, and healthy soils in driving sustainable agricultural growth. He called for robust public sector involvement to ensure the availability of necessary technology through seed systems and regulatory frameworks.
Dr. Silim Nahdy, Executive Director of AFAAS, presented on the African Extension Framework, highlighting the importance of effective extension services in helping farmers adopt sustainable practices. The event also featured a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Mel Oluoch, SAA's Director of Strategic Partnerships, focusing on translating the vision of regenerative agriculture into practical innovations to address fertilizer cost challenges for African smallholders. The panel included Mr. Mandla Nkomo, Chief Growth Officer of the Excellence in Agronomy Initiative, Ms. Everlyn Musyoka, Strategy Lead for Smallholder Business Africa at Bayer Crop Science Ltd, and Dr. Fentahun Mengistu, Country Director for Ethiopia at Sasakawa Africa Association.
In his closing remarks, Dr. Makoto Kitanaka, President of SAA, highlighted SAA's proactive efforts in promoting regenerative agriculture among African smallholder farmers. He noted the positive response from farmers, indicating a significant shift towards sustainable practices. Dr. Kitanaka also emphasized the crucial role of SAA’s partnerships, particularly with JIRCAS and the Nippon Foundation, in advancing evidence-based methodologies.

Dr. David Nielson, delivering a keynote address
Dr. David Nielson, delivering a keynote address 


Panel session during the side event
Panel discussion with Mr. Mandla Nkomo, Ms. Everlyn Musyoka, Dr. Fentahun Mengistu, and Dr. Mel Oluoch

Partnership Meetings
SAA’s leadership engaged in crucial partnership meetings to advance agricultural development in Africa, emphasizing collaboration, expertise sharing, and resource pooling for sustainable practices during the summit. Key partnerships included discussions with Mr. Bernard Vanlauwe of the IITA and a team from Virginia Tech, focusing on leveraging research capabilities to enhance soil health and productivity. Additionally, SAA management’s discussion with Francoise Komlan (Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture-Benin) and Dr. Silim Nahdy (AFAAS) highlighted collective efforts to address agricultural challenges aiming to improve soil fertility, boost productivity, and ensure food security across the region.

SAA Exhibition Booth: Showcasing Innovations and Collaborative Opportunities
Throughout the summit, the SAA booth was also a hub of activity, showcasing the organization’s impactful work and innovative postharvest prototype technologies. The interactive approach allowed for valuable exchanges of ideas and experiences among participants. The SAA team, with support from SAA leadership, engaged attendees with detailed explanations about IEC materials and displayed technologies, highlighting SAA's contributions to sustainable agriculture.

SAA staff engaging with visitors at the exhibition booth
SAA staff engaging with visitors at the exhibition booth 

A Collective Commitment to Sustainable Agriculture
The summit concluded with the endorsement of the Nairobi Declaration on Fertilizer and Soil Health by African Heads of State and Government. The declaration outlined commitments to triple domestic fertilizer production and ensure that at least 70% of smallholder farmers receive targeted agronomic recommendations and access to quality extension services by 2034.
The AFSHS highlighted a united front among African nations and agricultural stakeholders, all committed to transforming the continent’s soil health and agricultural productivity. SAA’s proactive role and strategic initiatives emphasized its dedication to driving innovative sustainable agricultural practices and ensuring food security across Africa. As the summit concluded, the message was clear: Africa is ready to take bold steps towards a greener, more food-secure future, with SAA as part of those leading the charge.

African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS)
AFSH Summit Side Event “Achieving Resilient Agri-Food Systems through Regenerative Agriculture in the Wake of Global Fertilizer Crises & Climate Change”

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