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According to the African scientist who spearheaded the UN Food Systems Summit process, the Sri Lankan government made a “reckless and careless” decision to restrict the use of synthetic fertilizers, and she does not believe other African countries would follow suit.

Agnes Kalibata said that the 2021 conference, which was intended to persuade governments to commit to tackling a broad variety of sustainability concerns, including climate change, did not provide the desired outcomes. The coronavirus epidemic, as well as Russia’s conflict in Ukraine, have both impeded growth, she told Agri-Pulse.

But she said, “we shifted the paradigm on how people think about food” and educated the public on the connection between food production and health and environmental issues.

The Sri Lankan fertilizer embargo was later lifted, but it nevertheless harmed agricultural output, leading to the island nation’s greatest economic crisis since its inception in 1948.

“There’s enough scientific evidence to show that without using fertilizers, yields are reduced anywhere between 25% to 40%,” said Kalibata, who is president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, an organization that promotes the use of agricultural technology on the continent.

Kalibata spoke with Agri-Pulse while in Washington for talks with officials from the Agriculture Department, the United States Agency for International Development, and the World Bank, as well as House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.

According to Kalibata, African nations continue to embrace the Green Revolution’s aims, which include the “ability to produce enough food to feed people, but also to use food as a means of economic empowerment of people.”

The first Green Revolution was a 1950s and 1960s initiative to raise agricultural yields, which greatly enhanced food supply in India and other needy nations. According to critics, the Green Revolution caused environmental harm due to the excessive use of synthetic fertilizer and chemicals. Similarly, others criticized Kalibata’s selection for the UN seat because of her support for technology.

Kalibata, who has a PhD in entomology from the University of Massachusetts and was Rwanda’s agricultural minister from 2008 to 2014, believes that underuse of fertilizer in Africa contributes to environmental degradation by encouraging farmers to convert virgin land into crops.

“I don’t think that people aspire to go there (deep cuts in fertilizer usage). The only reason that they would go there is if fertilizers continue to be expensive,” she said.

According to Kalibata, “the implementation of the Food System Summit outcomes could have been better.” We may have seen greater traction. I still believe there will be a lot of momentum. But it will take some time in Africa.”

She also stated that seven African nations have submitted “pathways,” or strategies for achieving sustainability targets. Several of these nations are “translating those pathways into country-level strategies.” “This will happen all over the world, mostly because there is no other option,” she stated.

Initially, industrial organizations in the United States were concerned that the Food Systems Summit would be used by the European Union to persuade poorer nations to reject agricultural technology.

However, industrial organizations eventually embraced the Biden administration’s new worldwide “productivity” alliance. The government pledged $10 billion in five-year funding for local and worldwide food security.

Source: Agri-Pulse

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