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Effort to confront Africa's soil health crisis helps millions of farmers triple yields
Date:8/22/2014

of state cited the need to double agricultural productivity, with access to high quality "inputs" for crops at the top of the list.

According to the AGRA analysis, unsustainable farming practices, like a failure to rotate crops or apply mineral or organic fertilizers, along with persistent soil erosion, are depriving croplands across sub-Saharan Africa of 30 to 80 kilos per hectare of essential plant nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen. The report warns that such losses threaten to "kill Africa's hopes for a food-secure future."

AGRA's Soil Health Program has approached the problem by supporting an extensive network of partnerships in 13 countries in which three million farmers have been trained in an approach to growing crops called "Integrated Soil Fertility Management" or ISFM. Already, some 1.7 million farmers have adopted ISFM practices, which involve doing things like mixing in organic matter such as crop residues and manure into the soil, applying small amounts of mineral fertilizers, and planting legume crops like cowpea, soybean and pigeon pea that can naturally deposit nitrogen into the soil.

The improvements in crop yieldsthe increase in the amount farmers are harvesting from the same piece of landover the past five years have been substantial. Some examples follow:

  • In Tanzania, farmers adopting a combination of ISFM practices and new, improved crop varieties more than doubled their maize yields, from 1.5 to 3.5 tons per hectare, while pigeon pea yields increased from 0.6 to 1.4 tons per hectare.

  • In Malawi, maize yields more than doubled, from 2 to 4.6 tons per hectare and soybean yields rose from 0.7 to 1.3 tons per hectare.

  • In Ghana, maize yields increased from 1.5 to 3.5 tons per hectare and soybean from 0.9 to 1.5 tons per hectare.

A key priority of AGRA's Soil Health Program is to make it easier for farmers to acquire and properly apply mineral fertilizers. W
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Contact: Saburi Chirimi
schirimi@burnesscommunications.com
254-721-569-369
Burness Communications

Anne Wangalachi
254-710-230-600
awangalachi@agra.org
AGRA
Source:Eurekalert


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