Improving soil health and optimizing plant nutrition through empowering women farmers

Ollivier Girard_CIFOR Photo: Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

The Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit  (AFSH) will be held in Nairobi, Kenya May 7-9, 2024. The event brings together all relevant stakeholders to highlight the crucial role of fertilizer and soil health in stimulating sustainable pro-poor productivity growth in African agriculture and to agree on an African Fertilizer and Soil Health Action Plan, as well as the Soils Initiative for Africa. The CGIAR GENDER Impact Platform will join an official side event on May 8, 2024 together with partners from GROOTS KenyaUSAID and IFPRI


Healthy soils play a critical role in supporting agricultural productivity, climate change mitigation and resilience, and a range of ecosystem services. Up to 65% of productive land in Africa has been estimated to be degraded, and the majority of poor smallholder farmers in certain regions have to contend with degraded and nutrient-depleted soils.  While many technical options for soil improvement or restoration have been identified, they all too often remain ‘on the shelf’ or are not adopted at scale for a myriad of reasons, including sociocultural, institutional, economic and policy barriers, which stand in the way of their uptake at scale.

Gender inequality is deeply embedded in and reinforces these barriers, and represents a wicked problem requiring context – and culture-specific understandings and approaches.

Despite the outsized role of women in agrifood systems, gender inequalities, such as women’s limited access to both resources and knowledge, accounts for a 24% gap in productivity between women and men farmers on farms of equal size.  Developing context- and culture-specific understandings and approaches to fostering women’s empowerment could provide a much-needed productivity boost, and support soil health and balanced plant nutrition.

To this end, the CGIAR GENDER Impact Platform will join other partners in a side event organized by the African Union Commission at the AFSH Summit happening in Nairobi, Kenya, on May 7-9, 2024. The session titled ‘Improving soil health and optimizing plant nutrition through empowering women farmers’ will be held on May 8, 2024, at 2pm, Nairobi.

This side event will contribute toward improving the policy frameworks around fertilizers and soil health and toward incentive schemes for building soil health (area 6).

Objective of the session: 

This session discusses women’s roles in Africa’s soil health and plant nutrition, presents a conceptual framework that describes the key gender considerations for soil health management, and introduces a recent study that improved women farmer’s access to information about soil health management in Kenya and Uganda

The presentations will be followed by a moderated panel discussion on barriers that women farmers in Africa face and solutions that grassroots women’s associations and other soil-health actors have taken to level the soil-health playing field on the continent. This session aims to ensure that women’s voices, which are critical to the successful implementation of the 10-year action plan of the AFSH Summit, are heard.

How to join the event

If you are attending the summit physically in Nairobi,  join the session at KICC Tent 1. 

If you are joining virtually, join the session via zoom. Register here. 



Claudia Ringler

Director, Natural Resources and Resilience International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Dennis Njung'e

Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Manager GROOTS Kenya