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Kenya achieves key African target in fertilizer usage

Kenya is among African countries that have achieved the Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer Usage of 50 kilogrammes (nutrients) per hectare.

State Department for Agriculture Principal Secretary (PS) Dr. Kipronoh Ronoh said that the declaration called on all African countries to promote fertilizer use from a low of 8 kg (nutrients)/ha to 50 kg (nutrients)/ha in a span of 10 years and map out strategies for maintaining an upward trajectory in fertilizer application.

Dr. Ronoh said that Kenya being at about 55 kg (nutrients)/ha, is among the countries that have achieved this target. However, this is still far below its apparent annual consumption potential of 1.5 million metric tonnes (MT).

“The current apparent annual consumption in Kenya is estimated at 750,000 MT which is just 50 percent of the potential,” said the PS.

Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday during the pre-summit dialogue on the African Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit, Dr. Ronoh said that Kenya and the African Union Commission (AUC) are jointly organising the summit to take stock of achievements made since the Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer for the Africa Green Revolution of 2006.

The PS explained that to increase fertilizer use, agricultural production and agricultural productivity, the Kenyan government has been implementing fertilizer subsidy programmes. The subsidy programmes have been implemented either as a short-term measure to ensure competitive production and sustained profitability or to facilitate uptake of technologies.

“The continuous use of fertilizers has not often resulted in desired results of increased crop yields; this has been evidenced in the maize crop where the yields have been observed to stagnate. This means focusing also on soil health is critical as nutrient replenishment is necessary for sustainable increase in yields,” said Dr. Ronoh.

He added that the Ministry in collaboration with other stakeholders has developed the Agricultural Soil Management Policy 2023 to guide the sustainable management of agricultural soils in the country and especially address the low productivity arising from declining soil fertility and deteriorating soil health.

“Soil sampling and testing will be done throughout the country to generate geo-referenced soil nutrient maps that will guide fertilizer application in specific agro-ecological zones,” he said.

According to the PS, the expected outcome of the Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit is endorsement by heads of state and government of a 10-year action plan that will deliver concrete recommendations for steps to be taken by African leaders and stakeholders over the next 10 years.

Dr. Ronoh said that the Action Plan will provide a focus for new policies and investments that will enable farmers to work towards re-building soil health and ultimately increase yield responses and profitability of fertilizers.

“It is also expected that the Action Plan will be endorsed by leading private and public sector partners across all African countries together with the Nairobi Declaration, the 10-Year Action Plan, the Soil Initiative for Africa (SIA) and the Mechanism to Finance the Action Plan (Post-Summit Implementation Process).

The Africa Fertiliser and Soil Health Summit (AFSH) will take place from May 7 to 9, 2024, at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Nairobi, Kenya.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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