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Guiding Acid Soil Management Investments in Africa (GAIA)

Healthier soils, plant nutrition and improved land management contribute to more productive and profitable smallholder enterprises. The Guiding Acid Soil Management Investments in Africa (GAIA) project will address key knowledge gaps related to soil health and improved agronomy. It will use scalable innovations to provide reliable, timely and actionable data and insights on soil health and crop performance, at farm and regional levels.

Novel diagnostic approaches, data assets, decision aids and better farm management practices are increasingly being scaled and integrated with other data, products and services. These services can be integrated with solution-focused, bundled services that support farmers in their timely management and operational decisions. They can also be integrated with input delivery systems, including digitally enabled agricultural advisory systems.

Key expected results in the next five years include:

  • National soil information services fully integrated with functioning agronomy research pipelines within key international and national research organizations of at least seven focus countries in sub-Saharan Africa and SA.
  • Soil information services solutions are integrated with agricultural advisory services into overall decision agriculture platforms at the national level.
  • Innovative diagnostic tools and decision aids are increasingly used at farm and regional level.
  • All investments routinely apply FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) data principles and practices.

The vision of success of this project is the rehabilitation of acid soils at scale in East Africa — thanks to data-driven and spatially-explicit recommendations — leading to maximized (and inclusive) returns on investment for farmers, private companies and governments. While the analysis and outputs will be targeted to the specific needs of partner counties (Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania), the methodology, workflows and much of the analysis will be of relevance for other countries in the region. While the specific focus of the project is on acid soils, the frameworks will be adaptable and applicable to other soil health and geospatial agronomic challenges. The ultimate goal is sustainable intensification of African smallholder farming systems.

In line with its vision and goal, GAIA will deliver three primary outcomes:

  • Increase depth and utility of data and evidence related to acid soil management in the region.
  • Provide support to governments and the private sector to stimulate investment in acid soil management in the region.
  • Improve access and use of data related to acid soil management in the region.