There is a growing recognition, among both policy-makers and specialists, that soil degradation
is one of the root causes of declining agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa, (SSA) and
that, unless controlled, many parts of the continent, would suffer increasingly from food insecurity.
The consequences of allowing the productivity of Africa’s soil resources to continue on its
present downward spiral would be severe, not only for the economies of individual countries but
for the welfare of the millions of rural households dependent on agriculture for meeting their
The experience of FAO and other international, regional and national organizations, shows
that soil fertility decline does not have to be an inevitable consequence of using the continent’s
soil resources for agricultural purposes. There are a considerable number of projects, in SSA,
that have found successful ways of working with resource poor farmers to promote improved
soil, water, and plant nutrient management practices. The conclusion is clear, if the circumstances
are favourable, it is possible to sustain and improve soil productivity enabling crops to be grown,
livestock to be raised and trees managed in both a productive and conservation effective manner.