International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics rolls out programmes to address soil fertility challenges

18 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics  rolls out programmes to address soil fertility challenges

The Sunday News

Judith Phiri, Business Reporter  

THE International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) has rolled out various integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) practices to address soil fertility challenges in the smallholder farming sector.

The institution is evaluating various ISFM practices being promoted by the development agencies programmes such as Takunda and Amalima Loko that have been funded from the United States Agency for International Development (USaid)’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).

The programmes are supporting smallholder farmers in Manicaland, Masvingo and Matabeleland North provinces.

Icrisat Zimbabwe country representative who is also the farming and systems analysis principal scientist, Dr Martin Moyo said the evaluation research on the impact of selected ISFM practices on crop yields will help farmers assess and decide what practices to adopt.

“This will be based on a clear understanding of potential yields and first-hand experience in a scientific and supportive environment. The research will show the additive value of adopting components or multiple components of practices based on each farmer’s capacity. This will ensure partners have packages tailor-made for different farm typologies, particularly resource-poor households,” he said.

He said several effective ISFM practices rely on low-cost inputs such as conservation agriculture and inter-cropping. Dr Moyo said these are also referred to as live mulching, crop rotation, mulching using dead plant material, and the use of organic fertilisers.

“Both the Government of Zimbabwe and its development partners have been promoting these practices to improve soil fertility and productivity in the smallholder sector. While ideally, farmers must implement several components of ISFM simultaneously for best results, this is often not the case. This is mainly due to differences in resource endowments among farmers as well as knowledge and preferences for ISFM, gender-specific constraints and risk profiles.”

He said the adoption of these technologies by smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe has been lagging behind due to various reasons, such as access to information on the effect these technologies have on productivity, either as a bundle or individually.

Dr Moyo said providing farmers with evidence on the performance of the different low-cost technologies for improving soil fertility, such as ISFM practices can contribute to farmers’ decision-making processes to accelerate the mainstreaming of these practices into their systems.

He added: “As Icrisat we are also currently working on a number of initiatives within Zimbabwe, supporting the Government of Zimbabwe’s aspirations towards Vision 2030. Icrisat specifically works with the Government of Zimbabwe and development partners within the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) that seeks to increase food self-sufficiency and reduce food insecurity.”

Share This: