PR – Fifty-six scientists from 16 countries met at ICRAF, Nairobi, Kenya to launch the African Soil Information Service (AfSIS) and conduct its first workshop. AfSIS is a pioneering tool that will address some of the pressing issues facing sub-Saharan Africa, such as food security, environmental degradation, and climate change by producing a web-based freely accessible digital soil map and an accompanying information system.
AfSIS was launched with the Kenyan Minister of Planning, the secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, and other key actors affirming the project’s significance. A day-long field trip to a severely degraded site in western Kenya examined massive soil sedimentation into a tributary of Lake Victoria, illustrating the importance of AfSIS to prevent the impact of soil degradation. Constructive working group sessions on each objective outlined and detailed action plans.
These include : decisions on a data model; development of the web applications; completion of technical specification manuals for soil sampling, laboratory analysis and modeling; design of field management trials; and the development of strategic collaborations with international partners. Participants developed a user-friendly software for managing and communicating between objectives and for reporting milestones to the Gates Foundation and AGRA.