Neglecting the health of Africa’s soil will lock the continent into a cycle of food insecurity for generations to come, a report has warned.
The publication by the Montpellier Panel said the problem needed to be given a higher priority by aid donors.
It added that soil degradation was also hampering economic development, costing the continent’s farmers billions of dollars in lost income.
The Montpellier Panel – made up of agricultural, trade and ecology experts from Europe and Africa – warned that land degradation reduced soil fertility, leading to lower crop yields and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
‘In Africa, the impacts are substantial where 65% of arable land, 30% of grazing land and 20% of forests are already damaged,’ it observed.
The report said the panel’s members believed that soil was the ‘cornerstone of food security and agricultural development and its care, restoration, enhancement and conservation should intuitively become a major global priority’.
‘We know what you have to do to improve the quality of soil, but the big challenge is providing the funds and making sure that there are incentives for farmers.’