Monday, December 16, 2013

IITA co-hosts the 6th International Nitrogen Conference in Kampala, Uganda

Participants at the nitrogen conference
IITA co-hosted the successful 6th International Nitrogen Conference from 18 to 22 November 2013 in Kampala, Uganda. It brought together 168 delegates from 37 countries, including scientists, agriculturalists, environmentalists, industrialists, economists, and policy-makers, to discuss issues linked to nitrogen management. These included food security, human health, agriculture, and the water cycle.

On the last day, participants at the conference developed the Kampala Declaration on global nitrogen management. Details will be announced soon.

Speaking during the opening ceremony, Prof Mateete Bekunda, the Convener of the conference, challenged the participants to come up with a Kampala Declaration that was an “Agenda for Action” in response to the conference theme: “Let us aim for Just Enough Nitrogen: Perspectives on how to get there for “too much” and “too little” regions.”

Also present during the opening ceremony was Dr Bernard Vanlauwe who relayed the goodwill message from IITA’s Director General to the participants and gave the first keynote address on Nitrogen fixation intensification and Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM).

Other speakers included Prof. Mark Sutton, the Chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI). He said that the challenge of reactive nitrogen management encompassed many sectors, including agriculture, fossil fuels, waste water, and our own dietary choices.

He added, “In western countries there is a debate between conventional foods and organic foods which completely exclude nitrogen fertilizers. The general sense at the conference was that there is a need to explore and market options that get the best of both approaches.”

Another high profile personality who gave a keynote speech was the World Food Prize Laureate, Prof Pedro Sanchez, who said that enabling government policies must facilitate private sector development across the food value chain from soil to the fork.

Conference presentations highlighted the benefits of nitrogen for agriculture and the threats from too much and too little.  Delegates discussed the development of sustainable ways of managing nitrogen. It was noted that while developed countries needed to learn to manage nitrogen resources more effectively, those in sub-Saharan Africa needed to increase their input of nitrogen fertilizer to meet food security goals. However, they also needed to take care to avoid nitrogen pollution. 

The conference was the world’s first to offer Nitrogen Neutrality. Nearly two in three of the delegates signed up to the scheme to offset the nitrogen footprint of organizing the Conference by paying 50 dollars to an N Neutrality project, the Ruhiira Millennium Village.
The conference was hosted and supported by the International Nitrogen Initiative, Makerere University which provided the Secretariat, Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), and IITA. Other supporting institutions were International Fertilizer Association (IFA), International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), Africa RISING, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Global Partnership on Nutrition Management (GPNM), N2Africa, European Commission, and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Conference abstracts and sanctioned Power Point presentations are being uploaded on

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