About this Research Topic
Improving and maintaining soil fertility is critical for sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and, in particular, contribute to eradicating poverty (SDG 1), and ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture (SDG 2). Fertile soil and sustainable soil management are fundamentals for achieving sustainable food production and contribute to sustainable natural resource management, as well as preventing widespread environmental degradation such as erosion, loss of biodiversity and pollution of water bodies.
It is being increasingly recognized that activities aimed at improving soil fertility management need to be implemented in the context of poverty reduction that gives priority to agriculture as an engine of economic growth, improving livelihoods, and promoting community-based actions that can boost agricultural production, improve nutrition and food security and promote sustainable livelihoods. This Research Topic explores soil fertility and soil management options that ensure the availability and affordability of nutritious food and well as promoting sustainable livelihoods. It will cover topics from agronomy and soil science to food security and livelihoods, as well as digital and computer-based solutions that offer opportunities to address and tackle the challenges in SSA soil fertility, food security, and livelihoods without compromising the quality of the environment.
Agriculture in SSA is predominantly rainfed and managed by smallholder farmers, making it vulnerable to climate change and variability. Cereal yields in SSA, for example, are extremely low and average about 1.6 tons ha-1 compared to the global value of 3.9 tons ha-1. This low yield has been attributed to several factors including declining soil fertility, low use, and limited access to inputs including mineral fertilizers and organic resources. Fertilizer use in SSA is constrained by several factors including risk associated with poor rainfall, high cost, limited access, and poor producer price.
African smallholder farming systems often rely on inherent soil organic matter (SOM) content to sustain crop production. While SOM can help to maintain soil fertility by enhancing the retention and release of soil nutrients as well as improving the water holding capacity of the soil, continuous cropping and soil erosion can reduce the native SOM content, resulting in a rapid decline in soil fertility. Farmers often respond to soil fertility decline and low yields by expanding their agricultural activities onto marginal soils, resulting in widespread land degradation, food and nutritional insecurity, and poverty. Judicious soil fertility management improvement is thus necessary for achieving the sustainable development goals 1 and 2, and for achieving food, nutritional security, and sustainable livelihoods in SSA.
Over the past two decades, several soil fertility management options have been developed in SSA to address the widespread soil degradation, food insecurity and rural poverty on the continent. This Research Topic focuses on recent advancements in soil fertility management and good agricultural practices to address widespread land degradation, food insecurity, and rural poverty on the African continent. We are interested in original research articles. Topics submitted to this collection should cover a wide area including agronomy and soil science, organic agriculture, agroecology, integrated soil fertility, and sustainable land management, food and nutritional security, and sustainable livelihoods.
Keywords: farming system, food production, integrated soil fertility management, sub-Saharan Africa, Crop modelling, food and nutritional security, sustainable livelihoods
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