BBC for SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT, 4 December 2014, tells that African soil crisis threatens food security because of substantial soil degradation where 65% of arable land, 30% of grazing land and 20% of forests are already damaged. This serious land degradation accounts for about a quarter of land area of sub-Saharan Africa, which is indeed a vast area. The study has been published ahead of the 2015 international year of soils.
According to Montpellier Panel, made up of agricultural, trade and ecology experts from Europe and Africa, the problem needed a higher priority by aid donors as land degradation reduced soil fertility, leading to lower crop yields and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Soil degradation was also hampering economic development, costing the continent’s farmers billions of dollars in lost income.
The Montpellier Panel said that this issue must be given ‘Global priority’ as Africa is facing a combination of severe difficulties of land degradation, poor yields and a growing population. Panel chairman Sir Prof Gordon Conway, from Imperial College London, described the issue as a “crisis of land degradation and soil management”, adding: “We have got to do something about it”. “There are about 180 million people who are living on land that is in some way or another degraded. It is really very severe.” 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.
Other factors are likely to add further threats for accelerating soil degradation, e.g. global warming, hydro-electric power industries (http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/big-dams-bringing-poverty-not-power-to-africa-2006) and peak phosphorus by the end of this century (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_phosphorus).