A new book to help farmers and other stakeholders on soil health is set to be launched soon. The book, Going Beyond Demos, covers topics in soil health management shedding light on years of research coordinated by Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
“There have been so many demonstrations aimed at improving small scale farming in Africa. The next level should be towards realizing productivity,” explains Abednego Kiwia, a Soil Health Specialist at AGRA. “Healthy soils translate into improved yields and food security.”
The book is a culmination of research findings borne out of interacting with farmers from 13 countries in Africa that AGRA covers.
During a recent ‘writeshop’ in a Naivasha hotel organized by AGRA scientists, researchers, policy analysts, environmental experts, food security experts and representatives of different categories of groups working towards improvement of small scale holding agriculture shared their experiences as they focused on solutions to the problems facing the sector.
The book will inform industry players and farmers on solutions that can be adopted to ensure small scale farming reach its potential. “We have shared best practices in the book so that there is information on what can be adopted as a model. If a solution has been found in Rwanda and the region is within the same climatic and topographical conditions as Kenya, we will borrow a leaf to make it happen. At the same time if a model has failed, it challenges will also be interrogated to inform the future,” explores Kiwia
Going Beyond Demos has 12 topics covering issues like fertilizer policies and regulations, use of lime to improve crop productivity, pigeon peas value chain, fertilizer micro dozing, scaling up maize – soybean value chain, rice production in East and West Africa and much more.
The book reviews activities of AGRA and partner organizations in 13 countries of Africa with eight in Eastern and Southern Africa. The ultimate message is that enough demonstrations have been done, and what remains now is action.
Even as debates on why small scale farming has failed to work there are still model farmers in every community who always have bumper harvests. Kiwia explains this is due to adopting best farming practices especially by ensuring they have healthy soils.
A healthy soil has three components namely physical, chemical and biological. NPK fertilizer in addition to other macro nutrients like zinc , sulphur and many others are very important in enriching the soil. It also must have the right physical characteristic with the most preferred being loam soil. Soil must also have the right biological – bacteria, fungi, and earthworms – composition to be productive.
And for the soil to be healthy farmers are encouraged to use the right fertilizer and the right dose. “Farmers need to know that there is need to use fertilizer as manure does not have all the nutrients their crops require… Micro dozing or minimal use of fertilizer is also important as too much of it may be wasteful” says the book in part.
This book is going to be a must read for all stakeholders once available.