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The Sustain Africa Initiative in Kenya: Enhancing Soil Health through Organic Fertilizers

04 Apr 2024

Recently, stakeholders gathered at the Movenpick Hotel in Nairobi to discuss the integration of organic fertilizers and input manufacturers into soil health management in Kenya. Organized under the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), the workshop aimed to address the pressing need for sustainable agricultural practices across the country.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Mutonyi James, the AFAP Kenya country director, emphasized the importance of incorporating organic fertilizers into the government’s soil health management plan to enhance agricultural productivity sustainably.

AFAP has been instrumental in fostering dialogue between the public and private sectors to develop the fertilizer sector across Africa. With funding from organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rabobank, AFAP has been actively engaged in promoting agricultural productivity in Kenya through the Sustain Kenya Initiative. By partnering with various stakeholders, including government bodies and fertilizer industries, AFAP aims to provide advisory services and develop science-based fertilizer recommendations tailored to specific crops and regions.

Dr. Samuel Mathu, representing Excellence in Agronomy (EIA), introduced the Agwise model aimed at developing tailored agronomic recommendations for Kenyan farmers. By leveraging data analytics and on-farm trials, the model seeks to optimize fertilizer use and enhance crop yields sustainably.

Henry Kinyua from the Presidential Economic Transformation Secretariat highlighted the government’s focus on agriculture as a key driver of economic growth. Initiatives such as farmer cooperatives, farmer Saccos, and farm produce aggregation centers aim to improve market access and profitability for smallholder farmers.

Dr. Lilian from the Fertilizer Association of Kenya discussed the role of the private sector in supplying balanced and sustainable fertilizers to farmers. Through investments in soil mapping, research, and development, the industry has formulated various fertilizer blends tailored to different crops and soil types, contributing to increased agricultural productivity.

Mrs. Junnie Wangari introduced the Organic Fertilizer and Input Manufacturers Association of Kenya (OFIMAK), highlighting its role in promoting organic farming practices. OFIMAK advocates for the use of organic fertilizers to improve soil health, boost crop yields, and reduce environmental impact.

Dr. Kimani, a soil scientist at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), highlighted the challenges of soil degradation and nutrient depletion facing Kenyan farmers. He emphasized the importance of adopting integrated soil fertility management practices and recommended strategies for managing acidic and saline/sodic soils.

In conclusion, the workshop emphasized the importance of integrating organic and inorganic fertilizer manufacturers, including the inclusion of organic fertilizers in government subsidy programs and the training of extension staff on organic fertilizer application protocols. By embracing sustainable agricultural practices, Kenya can enhance soil health, increase agricultural productivity, and ensure food security for future generations.