KENYA – In the just concluded three-day African Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi on May 7 to 9 2024, organic fertilizers emerged from the shadows to claim their well-deserved spotlight.

Amidst discussions on Africa’s soil health crisis, Kenya took centre stage in championing the use of organic fertilizers as a sustainable solution to decades-long agricultural challenges.

Traditionally overshadowed by chemical or mineral fertilizers, organic alternatives had struggled to gain traction in farming circles.

However, the narrative took a sharp turn during the summit, where organic fertilizers were not just included in discussions but actively promoted as an integral part of Africa’s fertilizer landscape.

The summit, which witnessed the participation of six African heads of state, policymakers, private-sector players, farmer organizations, and development agencies, emphasized the urgency of addressing Africa’s declining soil health.

Speakers highlighted the importance of organic fertilizers in revitalizing soil fertility and ensuring long-term agricultural sustainability.

Parallel events dedicated specifically to organic fertilizers underscored their newfound prominence.

One such event, co-sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), delved into the emerging opportunities offered by organic and bio-fertilizers for enhancing soil health across Africa.

Prof. Bernhard Freyer, a renowned expert from the University for Continuing Education Krems in Austria lauded Kenya’s strides in embracing organic materials, citing successful examples in agro-processing residues recirculation within industries like flowers and coffee.

Prof. Freyer predicted a significant role for organic fertilizers in Kenya’s agricultural market in the coming years, emphasizing the dynamic development underway.

On his part, Dr. Aghan Oscar, founder of Eco Biofertilizer, shared encouraging experiences of increasing acceptance and adoption of organic fertilizers in Kenya.

Dr. Oscar highlighted the scientifically proven efficacy of their products, which have yielded substantial improvements in crop yields for farmers.

Moreover, the shift towards organic fertilizers holds promise beyond agricultural benefits.

Dr. David Amudavi, Executive Director at Biovision Africa Trust/ICIPE, highlighted the potential of organic fertilizer production to address pressing social issues like organic waste management and youth unemployment.

By empowering youth with skills in organic fertilizer production, Dr. Amudavi envisioned a sustainable solution that not only enhances soil health but also creates economic opportunities in urban areas.

However, despite the momentum gained by organic fertilizers, challenges remain in achieving widespread adoption.

Pro. Cliff Sibusiso Dlamini, Executive Director at CCARDESA, emphasized the need for political support to include organic fertilizers in subsidized inputs for smallholder farmers across Africa.

Other experts also echoed the sentiment, stressing the importance of policy frameworks and capacity-building initiatives to scale up the commercialization of organic fertilizers in the continent.

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