Soil textures scan starts to improve fertiliser use

15Feb 2020
James Kandoya
The Guardian
Soil textures scan starts to improve fertiliser use

THE government is mapping soil profiles across the country to be used to guide farmers on proper application of fertilizers so as to avoid misuse which currently stands at 20 per cent.

Agriculture deputy minister Hussein Bashe, file photo

Agriculture deputy minister Hussein Bashe told The Guardian yesterday in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the ongoing 6th Annual Agricultural Policy Conference (AAPC) here that the report on soil texture and other properties will be ready by midyear.

The outcome of the study will be unveiled and distributed all over the country so that farmers do not use wrong fertilisers as is the case now, as application of the nutrients is based on guesswork.

Bashe said most farmers are not aware of applicable soil profile and therefore may use fertilizers on soil that does not need the input. If they had been informed earlier, fertiliser use would not result in poor yields and loss to the farmers.

He said that currently 20 per cent of fertilizers is used in the soil where it was not necessarily needed, implying that much of the fertilizer imported is excessive to real needs.

The aim of conducting this exercise was to further equip farmers with soil profile knowledge which shall enable farmers to choose the right fertilizers for a particular piece of land.

Currently, there was no soil profile study conducted that could enable them to have the right choice of fertilizers, as in every piece of land there are different soil profiles, he stated.

As a result farmers use millions of shillings to buy fertilizers and put it in their farms that they could easily do without, he lamented.

About 60 per cent of fertilizer used in the country is imported and out of the total amount around 20 per cent of fertilizer is used inappropriately, he explained.

“We are finalizing this exercise conducted by three laboratories across the country. Once it is over, the public will be informed and obtain brochures in an easy and affordable way,” he said.

“We are looking forward to subsidize the services to make them affordable to the farmers when accessing information to know soil profiles in their respective areas,” he affirmed.

Once the study was over, it will be open and posted for free in online platforms to enable farmers to access information through mobile phones anytime.

The government in collaboration with the private sector plans to establish more plants to manufacture fertilizers to reduce the amount of fertilizers imported annually, he stated.

In another development, the deputy minister said the government was reviewing the Cooperatives Act to direct them to commercial viability unlike at present.

“Without strong cooperatives, farmers cannot benefit from their agro- produce,” he declared.

The conference theme is “Public and Private Sector Investment for Agricultural Transformation in Tanzania,” attracting more than 150 participants from academia, research institutions, policy making bodies and advocacy groups.

Agricultural Non State Actor Forum (ANSAF) executive director Audax Rukonge said the conference provides an opportunity to assess progress in the implementation of policy reforms.

Participants will discuss success stories and lessons learned to identify remaining gaps and emerging issues calling for attention, he added.

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