France promotes “4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate”

Officially launched during the COP21 Climate Change Conference in December 2015, the “4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate” aims to ensure that agriculture contributes to combating climate change. Increasing the soil carbon stock (agricultural soils, notably grasslands, pastures and forest soils) is crucial to improve soil fertility and agricultural production and thus avoid soil degradation. According to the Initiative stakeholders, a "4/1000" annual growth rate of the soil carbon stock would make it possible to stop the present increase in atmospheric CO2. French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll went on mission to Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, to inform the West African partner countries about the initiative and encourage the establishment and diffusion of climate-smart agricultural practices to increase the carbon stock of soils and regenerate degraded soils. In an interview with Jeune Afrique, the French agriculture minister called for thinking beyond stable food production, which he said should first and foremost serve the objective of self-sufficiency among the countries in the region. “Agro-ecology needs to develop in Africa, as in Europe and France”, he declared. He recommended shifting focus from producing more to an approach that takes greater account of ecosystems, by investing in storage capacity and processing of agricultural products, which would also contribute to revitalising all segments of the agricultural value chains. During his mission, Le Foll met with CILSS Executive Secretary Djimé Adoum who noted that agriculture remains the region’s main source of employment. “Some 100 million young people will need to find jobs within the next 15 years”, he said.