Mbozi district’s Agriculture Technician, Alphonce Nanyanga said early this week that the soil analysis will be conducted free of charge thanks to a 3.1m/- grant from Mbozi District Council as authorities seek to boost yields.
“We have decided to invest in this programme after discovering that farmers across the district are not knowledgeable on their farm’s soil type and what kind of fertilizer is required to apply,” Nanyanga said adding that they target to reach more than 400 farmers during the exercise.
“The main goal is to identify nutrients deficiency in the soil, understand soil health status and recommend farmers on the appropriate crops to plant and fertilizer to apply,” he added noting that the district will later scale up the exercise to cover all wards and village where farming is conducted.
He said statistics have shown that farmers who conduct soil analysis on their farms before planting have increased yields of maize from 12 bags of 90kgs each to 35 bags per acres. Nanyanga further noted that demand for soil analysis has been growing in Songwe region because farmers have realised that use of proper seeds and fertilizers has increased production.
“As a district, we want farmers to shift from traditional farming with low productivity to commercial farming that embraces good agriculture practices,” the Mbozi district agriculture officer, noted. He revealed that private soil analysts have been charging farmers between 20,000/- and 40,000/- per acre for testing.
Commenting on the exercise, Iyula ward’s Extension Officer, Halid Mchovu said the exercise is long overdue because farmers have been demanding the analysis. “As extension officers we know that farmers want this service but our lack of transport facilities has prevented us from reaching many villages,” Mchomvu said.
He said apart from soil analysis, smallholder farmers also need pruning tools, spraying equipments to combat pests that destroy crops while extension officers need soil testing kits to work more effectively.
“We request Ministry of Agriculture to urgently intervene on this because we are operating in a very poor working environment, sometimes we walk long distances to provide extension services to farmers,” he said.