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The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) is the global union of soil scientists. The objectives of the IUSS are to promote all branches of soil science, and to support all soil scientists across the world in the pursuit of their activities. This website provides information for IUSS members and those interested in soil science.

The Oslo Conference for a Green Revolution in Africa

September, 2006 Oslo

In the coming decades, Africa will have to feed a population that is expected to increase from around 850 million today to more than 1.8 billion in 2050. But at the current pace, it is estimated that Africa will be able to feed less than half of its population by 2015. Africa south of the Sahara has the highest proportion of impoverished people in the world, with nearly half its population living below the international poverty line. At the same time, nearly a third of the regions population is severely undernourished and Africa is the only continent where child malnutrition is getting worse rather than better Africa, alone among all the major regions of the world, has yet to have its green revolution. A major increase in agricultural productivity is absolutely essential. Constraints to African agriculture range from internal factors such as political and economic instability and unfavourable climate change to external factors such as unfair trade conditions and low foreign investment and aid.

Many experts argue that an African Green Revolution is essential for achieving food security in a continent that cannot rely on converting new land to agriculture. The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the UN, as well as the African Union, to put agricultural productivity at the forefront of the struggle to eliminate extreme hunger and poverty in accordance with the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The Oslo Conference on the Green Revolution in Africa was held between 31st August 2006 and 2nd September 2006 with the aim of supporting Africa’s development by promoting agricultural productivity and food security by creating awareness of, and catalyzing action to support, key strategies and interventions for breaking the cycle of poverty and hunger in Africa. The Conference was co-hosted by two Norwegian public development institutions, Norad and Norfund, and two private sector participants, Yara International and Rabobank. Other participants were multinational companies, government officials, donor and investment agencies, researchers, scientists and NGOs. Key speakers included the Director of the UN Millennium Project, Jeffrey D. Sachs and World Bank Executive Director, Paolo Gomes.

The 1970 Nobel peace prize laureate Dr Norman Borlaug (1914) speaking passionately about African soils and the need for inorganic fertilizers.

The 1970 Nobel peace prize laureate Dr Norman Borlaug (1914) speaking passionately about African soils and the need for inorganic fertilizers.

The Resolution

The Conference resolved to take concrete and concerted action toward the development of self-sustaining changes in African agricultural growth through the use of enhanced approaches to public-private partnerships.

In achievement of the above goal, the Conference recognized the following conditions:
  • The critical role of agriculture in building the wealth needed for Africa to reduce poverty and hunger
  • The rights to engagement in the agricultural entrepreneurial process of both women and men
  • The essential role in development played by NGOs and civil society
  • The need for both public and private investment and engagement in African agriculture to stimulate sustainable agricultural growth
  • The need for private-sector participation in the long-term development process
  • The need for public-sector appreciation of the importance of business to development
  • The value and need for public-private partnership to African agricultural development
  • The need to fully understand and enhance public-private partnership models to maximize development effectiveness
The following themes emerged as supportive to the achievement of the goals:
  • Public-private partnerships as a key to self-sustaining development
  • Targeted research and transfer of science and technology to farmers
  • Access to finance to allow development of farming and the surrounding infrastructure
  • Linkage of production and output markets to facilitate appropriate production choices
  • Development of, and participation in, new markets (e.g. Biofuels)
  • The inclusion of aspects of health and education in the development agenda
  • The importance and extension of the role of women in agriculture
  • The encouragement of entrepreneurship in seeking positive growth in the sector
  • The value of crop diversification in optimizing farmer returns and the understanding of principles of risk management to protect those returns
  • The value of sustainable partnerships based upon mutual benefits for all stakeholders

Andre Bationo
TSB-CIAT Nairobi