Soil testing kits to curb vast misuse of fertiliser

15Apr 2021
James Kandoya
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Soil testing kits to curb vast misuse of fertiliser

SOIL assessment kits will be distributed to over 100 districts countrywide for extension officers to instruct farmers on the proper use of fertilizer types.

Prof Adolf Mkenda, the minister for Agriculture, told The Guardian in an interview yesterday that the decision is based on the realisation that farmers in most parts of the country apply fertiliser without taking account of the soil texture of their farms, which is at times unproductive and incurs unnecessary costs.

Assessment kits will be distributed to 146 district councils to improve productivity, with the correct use of the nutrients, he said, elaborating that the programme will be tied to capacity building for extension officers in various districts to ensure that the advice rendered is appropriate.

Extension officers will be similarly be facilitated with reliable communication and other materials to ithat their work is traced with ease and assessed through mobile phone by higher ministerial officials, he pointed out.

Data available in the ministry shows that currently 20 percent of imported fertilizer is used irresponsibly and thus causes losses, in which case knowledge about soil profile is vital, he stated.

In enabling farmers to know their soil profiles, the knowledge of which fertiliser to use shall no longer need to be followed up in future, he pointed out.

The minister pointed at a gap in soil profile data as no studies are regularly conducted to inform farmers what fertilisers to use, such that in various locations and quite often individual farms or parts of them show different soil profiles.

Detailed plans on the scheme will be disclosed in the ministry’s expectations set out in its annual estimates expected to be tabled anytime in the ongoing budget session of the National Assembly.

The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Bashe, said last year that farmers use millions of shillings for fertilizer purchase to use on their farms randomly, failing to yield expected benefits.

Estimates put at 20 percent the amount of fertilizer used inappropriately and sometimes contribute to poor farm yields per acre, he had observed.

The government plans to collaborate with the private sector to establish more plants to manufacture fertilizers in the country to reduce the amount of fertilizers imported every year, he had asserted.

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