The former D. G. of CSIR was delighted to be at the meeting that morning to preside over the launching ceremony of the Ghana Soil Health Consortium (GSHC) and the inauguration of its steering committee.
He gave a brief introduction of CSIR after which he said that the Ghana Soil Health Consortium (GSHC) was a group of stakeholders along the soil health value chain which would coordinate and harmonize integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) technologies into content – specific packages and disseminate them widely to minimize duplication of efforts.
The former DG said that a revolution in our farming systems with strong emphasis on “input efficient management practices” was required to achieve food security and respond to climate change. Projections based on population growth and food consumption patterns indicate that agricultural production will need to increase by at least 70 percent to meet demands by 2050 (FAO,2010).
Most estimates also indicate that climate change was likely to reduce agricultural productivity, production stability and incomes in some areas that already have high levels of food insecurity. ISFM which may be defined as a set of soil fertility management practices that necessarily include the use of fertilizer, organic inputs and improved germplasm combined with the knowledge on how to adapt these practices to local conditions, and improve crop productivity is one of such input efficient management practice.
The practice optimizes on-farm recycling of nutrients through the application of compost, manure and crop residues and reduces nutrient losses by matching nutrient supply with plant needs. It also promotes the use of legumes in cropping systems for biological nitrogen fixation.
Improvement in the efficiency of organic inputs enables more to be produced with proportionally fewer amounts of fertilizers and sequester carbon in soil.
The operations of the Consortium were envisaged to improve productivity and livelihoods of smallholder farmers by enhancing the capacity of ISFM practitioners to access best-fit practices for benchmark soils; directly influencing policy decisions in composition, marketing and distribution of ISFM products at national and district levels; directly integrating regional and national research into ISFM packaging, and inculcating gender and socio-economic status of farmers into best-fit ISFM innovations.
In addition, the Consortium shall furnish current and new ISFM extension service providers with information on a range of ISFM technologies facilitate the dissemination and adoption of these technologies. Furthermore, the consortium would host a web based data repository to share ISFM information with larger audience.