AGRA's Soil Health Program

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AGRA's Soil Health Program is a program of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa that was launched in January 2008. That month, the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations committed a total of US$180 million ($164.5 from the Gates Foundation and $15 million from the Rockefeller Foundation). According to the group's press release: "AGRA’s Soil Health Program will foster widespread adoption of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM). The ISFM strategy involves assessing local soil and water resources and considering how organic matter, fertilizers, farmer cropping systems, and farmer knowledge can work in concert to create highly productive and environmentally sustainable approaches to soil revitalization."[1]

Programs and Activities

The African Soil Information System (AfSIS)

"Launched in early 2009, AfSIS draws together highly fragmented information about African soils, updating it with the latest data available. AfSIS will provide precise knowledge of soil conditions, trends and the best means to improve soil fertility. Regional labs in Malawi, Mali and Tanzania, and 60 sentinel sites to be set up across sub-Saharan Africa will be key partners. AfSIS uses techniques such as digital soil mapping, infrared spectrometry, remote sensing and integrated soil fertility management to improve the way that soils are evaluated, mapped, monitored and managed. AfSIS is a joint initiative of AGRA, the Earth Institute at Columbia University (USA), and the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, a member of the CGIAR."[2]

Fertilizer Micro-Dosing

AGRA supports the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) fertilizer micro-dosing program in West Africa. The technique involves applying "no more than a bottle cap-full" of synthetic fertilizer to each millet plant. "In Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the program aims to reach at least 295,000 farmers on 150,000 hectares of land. Micro-dosing will be combined with conservation agriculture techniques, such as crop rotations with legumes to further build soil health."[3]

Regional Fertilizer Procurement Facility for East and Southern Africa

AGRA, together with NEPAD, the African Union and the African Development Bank (AfDB), is working to create a Regional Fertilizer Procurement Facility for East and Southern Africa. "The Facility will carry forward the recommendations of the landmark 2006 Africa Fertilizer Summit. At the Summit, 40 African governments agreed to raise the average use of fertilizers from 5 kilograms per hectare to 50 kg/ha. The Procurement Facility will make affordable fertilizer accessible to smallholder farmers through collective negotiation and purchasing. AGRA co-sponsored a regional Ministerial-level meeting in March 2009, which moved this process closer to implementation, developing a basic model for the facility function. Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda expressed their readiness to move ahead on establishing a procurement facility as soon as possible."[4]


In a June 2009 report, AGRA also described:[5]

  • "Promoting local solutions for soil health. AGRA is supporting the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute to increase the use of lime and other soil acidity management technologies on smallholder farms. In Uganda, AGRA is supporting the National Agricultural Research Organization to develop region- and crop- specific recommendations that will result in improved targeting of fertilizer for increased smallholder productivity.
  • "Developing the fertilizer value chain and fertilizer manufacturing in Tanzania. AGRA is working with the Tanzania Agriculture Input Partnership (TAIP) to increase smallholder access to fertilizer through strengthening the fertilizer value chain: from port facilities, to transport corridors, to rural agro-dealers. AGRA is also supporting government efforts to get locally-manufactured phosphate fertilizers into the hands of smallholders. Agro-dealers play a critical role in educating farmers about the use of natural phosphate, and a new government subsidy program promises to increase farmers’ use of phosphate from 10,000 MT in 2007/08 to 60,000 MT in 2008/09."


Partners include:[6]

ISFM Scale Out:

Training Institutions:

Fertilizer Supply:

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. "Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Commits US$180 Million to Revive Depleted Soils of Small-Scale Farmers," AGRA, January 25, 2008, Accessed April 1, 2012.
  2. AGRA: Early Accomplishments, Foundations for Growth, June 2009.
  3. AGRA: Early Accomplishments, Foundations for Growth, June 2009.
  4. AGRA: Early Accomplishments, Foundations for Growth, June 2009.
  5. AGRA: Early Accomplishments, Foundations for Growth, June 2009.
  6. Partners, Accessed April 2, 2012.

External Resources

External Articles