Improving the food security of Ethiopia: assessment of soil amendment rock recources and phosphate fertilizer resources







In response to the development call by the Ethiopian government in 2000, the Finnish government paid attention to strengthening the food security by developing the availability of Ethiopian fertilizer mineral resources. In 2003, representatives from the mineral, agriculture and energy sectors of Ethiopia and a number of Finnish experts evaluated the background information on the country resource potential. It was noted that the potential in phosphate resources, developing of soil conditioners and technical know-how for balanced usage of fertilizers and conditioners are crucial. Improved food production needs increased use of fertilizers and balancing of the generally too acidic soil. The recommendations outlined in 2003 form a general basis for the present proposal but additional discussions were held with experts and decision makers of the Ministry of Mines (MoM) and Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in Ethiopia during 2011 and 2012 to develop the initiative. The major objectives of the project are: 1) Assessment of rock resources suitable for soil amendment and conducting of tests in a pilot area: The huge resources of carbonates are mainly being used in the cement industry, this project evaluates some of these resources for soil amendment. The project also conducts soil survey on a pilot area and studies proper proportions of conditioner and fertilizer. 2) Assessment of raw material resources for phosphate based fertilizers: Evaluating the potential of the country for phosphate based resources (e.g. sedimentary terrains) and giving training in rapid surveying techniques (e.g. geophysical surveys and remote sensing). 3) Related capacity building programs: e.g. upgrading of respective laboratories at MoM and MoA, including training in sustainable exploitation of raw materials, capacity in soil and rock analysis and laboratory management. The Geological Survey of Finland jointly with MTT Agrifood Research Finland working together with MoM and MoA is the major implementation strategy with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland as funding agency. Most important expected results are: 1) Improved availability of suitable soil conditioners and balanced application of fertilizer and conditioner, 2) New information on the phosphate potential of the sedimentary terrain.