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Boosting soil nutrient mapping in sub-Saharan Africa

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is set to fast track an impact-oriented project in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America for digital soil nutrient mapping, after receiving US$20mn from the Government of the United States of America

This type of soil mapping can improve the efficiency in the use of fertilisers and help to boost food security and nutrition. 

“This contribution is timely and allows us to scale up the use of soil mapping in regions where it is most needed and where we are seeing a decline in fertiliser use due to price hikes,” stated QU Dongyu, FAO director-general, as he welcomed the investment. “By understanding what nutrients our soils and crops need, we will reduce waste when applying fertilisers and increase their effectiveness.”

Ambassador Cindy McCain, US permanent representative to FAO and the Rome-based UN agencies, announced the contribution during a week-long field visit to Guatemala and Honduras. The funds will help tackle what she called an unparalleled global food crisis and address both immediate and long-term needs many countries are facing due to skyrocketing food and fertiliser prices. The impacts of the climate crisis, such as frequent droughts, floods and high temperatures also put food security and nutrition at risk. Managing soils sustainably to increase resilience and adapt to these changes is essential and must be based on informed decisions and continuous monitoring of soil health.

The funding will be primarily used to conduct targeted soil nutrient mapping to systematise and improve the existing soil maps in Guatemala and Honduras, as well as in other countries in Central America and sub-Saharan Africa, where Ambassador McCain noted FAO has proven experience in building capacity and digitising soil maps, which have fast, positive impacts on crop yields and sustainability.