Nutrient depletion in the agricultural soils of Africa

About two-thirds of Africans depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. The fate of agricultural production, therefore, directly affects economic growth, social improvement, and trade in Africa. As the region’s population continues to grow rapidly, outpacing the growth rate in other regions of the world, its agricultural and is becoming increasingly degraded. Farmers are intensifying land use to meet food needs without proper management practices and external inputs. The resulting depletion of nutrients from soils has caused crop production to stagnate or decline in many African countries. In some cases, notably in the East African highlands, the rate of depletion is so high that even drastic measures, such as doubling the application of fertilizer or manure or halving erosion losses, would not be enough to offset nutrient deficits. Unless African governments, supported by the international community, take the lead in confronting the problems of nutrient depletion, deteriorating agricultural productivity will seriously undermine the foundations of sustainable economic growth in Africa.

Henao, Julio
Baanante, Carlos A.
Published date: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Series number: 
PDF file: 
application/pdf iconvb62.pdf(137.1KB)