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Fwd: [Food-news] Ecology and Agriculture reinforce each other for Food Security

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  • Alison S.
    ... http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1143760212955 ...
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2 5:47 PM
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      --- foodnews >
      > *www.foodnews.ca <http://www.foodnews.ca/>*
      >
      > *Editor's Note: *This article discusses a new study
      > on the state of
      > Africa's soil --documenting a key link between
      > ecology and agriculture
      > and how they have to reinforce each other. The
      > stressed, nutrient-poor
      > soil particularly in sub-Saharan Africa produces
      > poor yields. These
      > findings suggest that food security measures should
      > incorporate
      > sustainable, affordable plans for soil
      > rehabilitation.
      >
      >
      http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1143760212955
      >
      > * *
      >
      > *Africa** faces barren future*
      >
      > *Overworked land loses fertility:* Report
      > Continent's ability to feed
      > itself eroding
      >
      > Mar. 31, 2006. 05:22 AM
      >
      > KAREN PALMER
      > SPECIAL TO THE STAR
      >
      > Kampala, Uganda--Africa is in danger of losing its
      > ability to feed an
      > already hungry population because its farmland is
      > rapidly becoming
      > barren, a major new study warns.
      >
      > More than 80 per cent of farmland in sub-Saharan
      > Africa, where one in
      > three people is undernourished, is so depleted of
      > nutrients it has been
      > rendered infertile, the report notes.
      >
      > "This is severely eroding Africa's ability to feed
      > itself," Nigerian
      > President Olusegun Obasanjo said yesterday. "To feed
      > people, we must
      > also feed the soil."
      >
      > Researchers from the International Centre for Soil
      > Fertility and
      > Agricultural Development, who tracked soil
      > conditions across Africa for
      > more than two decades, say population growth is
      > leading to an
      > over-cultivation of farmland.
      >
      > Farmers who once rotated crop production, moving
      > from plot to plot to
      > allow soil to regain its fertility, are now forced
      > to grow crop after
      > crop on the same land, "depleting the soil of
      > nutrients while giving
      > nothing back," says the report.
      >
      > An estimated 70 per cent of Africans rely directly
      > on farming for their
      > food supply or livelihood. But the "soil health
      > crisis" means crop
      > productivity has remained stagnant, while cereal
      > yields in Asia have
      > tripled over the past four decades.
      >
      > "The news is not good," said Amit Roy, president of
      > the U.S.-based
      > non-profit soil centre, during a telephone
      > conference in Washington
      > yesterday. "The soil health of the African continent
      > is in decline and
      > there is significant mining of nutrients."
      >
      > Roy said at least 170 million hectares -- nearly 80
      > per cent of all
      > African farmland -- is so barren it cannot produce
      > even one tonne of
      > cereal per hectare a year -- a third of what soil in
      > Asia or South
      > America produces.
      >
      > The findings have major implications for the
      > continent's ability to feed
      > itself. Already, some 43 million tonnes of cereals
      > are imported to
      > sub-Saharan Africa each year at a cost of $7.5
      > billion (all figures U.S.).
      >
      > But despite that, an estimated 200 million people go
      > hungry each year.
      > Without radical change in agricultural practices,
      > the report predicts
      > that by 2020, Africa will have to import 60 million
      > tonnes of cereals,
      > which would cost $14 billion.
      >
      > "African aid is never, never going to end food
      > insecurity," said Firmino
      > Mucavele, chief executive of the New Partnership For
      > Africa's
      > Development secretariat. Nigeria's Obasanjo is chair
      > of the implementing
      > committee of the African Union-sponsored
      > secretariat.
      >
      > He said too many nutrients are being removed from
      > the African soil, and
      > not being replenished with suitable fertilizers.
      > "The environment is
      > being damaged by the quality and quantity of
      > fertilizers used," he said.
      >
      > Africa's rate of fertilizer use is one-tenth the
      > world average, although
      > commercial farmers grow peanut, cotton and sugar
      > cane crops that are
      > notoriously high consumers of soil nutrients.
      >
      > A cruel irony is that fertilizers cost up to six
      > times as much in Africa
      > as the rest of the world. A June summit will look at
      > ways of lowering
      > that cost, including the possibility of producing
      > fertilizer in Africa,
      > and promoting mineral and organic fertilizers. The
      > ultimate objective is
      > to reduce or eliminate hunger.
      >
      > There also needs to be more investment in
      > irrigation, Roy said. Only 4
      > per cent of arable land in Africa is watered
      > artificially, while nearly
      > 40 per cent of land in Asia is irrigated.
      >
      > And the problem needs to be managed immediately, Roy
      > said, since farmers
      > are encroaching on even more fragile ecosystems,
      > like forests and
      > savannahs, in search of new land to till.
      > Researchers found 50,000
      > hectares of forest and 60,000 hectares of grassland
      > are cleared for
      > farming each year in Africa.
      >
      > "Without the green revolution, we'll never be able
      > to create our own
      > resources and decrease poverty," Mucavele said.
      > "Without a green
      > revolution, we'll never really control our own
      > environment."
      >
      >
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      >
      > /Karen Palmer is The Star's stringer in Africa /
      >
      >
      >
      > --
      >
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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