“Feeding the Soil to Feed Africa: Improving Soil Health to Boost Farm Productivity,” a 2020 Borlaug Dialogue side event, examined why soil fertility is so crucial to expanding food production in sub-Saharan Africa, and opportunities to improve farmer incentives to adopt technologies that will result in healthier, more fertile soils.

Dr. André Bationo, winner of the 2020 Africa Food Prize for his pioneering work on practical solutions to improve soils on smallholder farms, provided a keynote address. A panel of experts discussed the role of markets, the private sector, and public sector policies and programs in improving the profitability of soil fertility technologies and expanding their impact across sub-Saharan Africa. Featured speakers include Mr. Alexander Fernando, IFDC’s regional director for East and Southern Africa; Dr. Eric Smaling, professor of agronomy at Wageningen University and Research, and former Member of Parliament in the Netherlands; and Ms. Ruth Kinoti, CEO and founder of IFDC partner Shalem Investments of Kenya. Dr. Julie Howard, Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, moderated the event.

Photo of speakers


Welcome and Introduction with Julie Howard

Soil Fertility and On-Farm Productivity with André Bationo

The Cross-Cutting Benefits of Improving Soil Fertility with Eric Smaling

Soil Fertility and Market Systems Development with Alexander Fernando

Bridging the Gaps in the Real World with Ruth Kinoti

Q&A and Wrap Up with Julie Howard


Julie Howard
Senior Adviser (Non-resident), Global Food Security Program
Center for Strategic and International Studies

André Bationo
Chief of Party, SAPEP

Alexander Fernando
Regional Director, East and Southern Africa

Eric Smaling
Wageningen University and Research

Ruth Kinoti
Shalem Investments Limited