Monday, 10 July 2006 - 2:55 PM

Soil Research Priorities in Africa.

Lamourdia Thiombiano, FAO, Regional Office for Africa, Accra, Ghana

This paper will focus on the following major soil science research priorities in Africa.

1)      Disaster prevention and management through the integration of risk evaluation, land use planning, and monitoring  the  severity of disasters and their impact on lands;

2)      Development of appropriate land use policies based on land  resource potential and land use  planning maps at appropriate scales;

3)      Tools and best practices for reversing land degradation and replenishing soil fertility. Soil scientists should develop (or contribute to ) more coherent activities for sustainable land management ranging from the policy level to technical issues related to appropriate cost effectives practices such as  soil fertility improvement and land rehabilitation. Additionally, ecosystem management approaches should be developed that prevent and/or reverse land degradation and monitor and evaluation of land degradation;

4)       Evaluation and monitoring of carbon sequestration. The identification of the most promising practices to increase carbon storage in the soil is an important research area in Africa. Additionally, appropriate curricula should be developed for the training of local communities and technicians to enable them to monitor the amount of carbon sequestered;

5)      Biodiversity and Biotechnology. There is a need for soil science researchers to monitor the status and trend regarding the adoption of GMO technology in African countries. Soil scientists are important partners who should be involved in the assessment of GMO impacts on biodiversity, particularly on soil biodiversity;

6)      Global ingenuous heritage systems (GIAHS): Soil research is Africa should include contribution to the identification, inventory, mapping, assessment and monitoring, conservation and improvement of GIAHS. More attention should be placed on strengthening local knowledge, a sine quanum basis for participatory land development. Activities could be also undertaken in the area of: (i) production of curricula on how to use local knowledge for sustainable land management; (ii) and adoption of national policies for GIAHS recognition, conservation and development;

7)      Contribution to Good agricultural practices and Food Safety norms and tools particularly in relation  to the areas of organic agriculture and bio-products;

8)      Monitoring and evaluation of urban and peri-urban agriculture dynamics , identification of best land management practices;

9)      Development of databases and modeling for prospective information contributing to policy advice and decision making.

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