In Uganda, like in many other Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries, there is very little use of mineral fertiliser compared to other regions of the world.
In many parts of Asia, for example, the average rate of fertiliser use is 50 kilogrammes per hectare whilst in Africa it is a mere five kilogrammes per hectare.
We are certainly leaving too much to chance. In their jointly authored foreword to the book, ‘Experimental Agriculture’, P J M Cooper and R Coe wrote:
“The widespread adoption of improved cultivars and essential use of mineral fertiliser to support greatly enhanced growth and yield were the foundations of the Green Revolution in Asia, but have just not occurred in SSA.”
In the foreword to a recently AGRA published book, ‘Feeding African Soils’
Noble Peace Prize winner, Norman Borlaug put SSA average NPK fertiliser use at eight kilogrammes per hectare as compared to 95 kilogrammes per hectare worldwide.
Big population countries such as China and India have robust agricultural sectors because they have opened up to improved crop varieties, modern farming technologies, and increased use of mineral fertiliser.
We have a rapidly growing population with declining capacity for the agricultural production needed to feed ourselves and to cause dynamic economic development.
This is the reason that the late Kofi Annan, way back in 2006, organised the African Fertiliser Summit in Abuja, Nigeria with the slogan “we must feed our soils to feed our people.”
To double our farm production we ought to find out what is missing from our soils and fix it instead of leaving things to chance.
Talk to a soil expert or the area agricultural services extension officer about testing the soil on your farm and seek guidance on best soil management practices and what type of fertilisers to use and how and when to apply them. Every farmer should have an agricultural expert in the neighborhood to turn to regularly for advice.
Most farmers tend to think that mineral fertilisers are too expensive but they are worth the cost since in nearly all cases positive results are immediate. Alternatively, a farmer can keep livestock and use farm yard manure as fertiliser.
Mr Michael Ssali is a veteran journalist,