October 11, 2013
In Malawi agriculture productivity is facing a number of challenges and the most obvious one is too much over reliance of inorganic fertilizers, this coupled with limited application of compost manure has resulted into depletion of soil fertility making fertilizers become less effective thereby decreasing productivity.
Ridge soil under maize cropping shows severely-eroded-condition implying poor physico-chemical properties of the soil (Kavuji EPA, Nkhatabay-Bay).
Worried by this trend the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security through the Department of Land Resources and Conservation requested JICA for technical assistance to develop Sustainable Land Management Promotion Project (SLMP). The implementation of the project started in 2011 and is expected to be concluded in 2015.
The overall goal is to diffuse Sustainable Land Management techniques nation-wide. The project's purpose is to enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to diffuse SLM techniques.
The project has four outputs and these are; Soil Fertility improvement techniques are enhanced; Extension agents in pilot sites are equipped with appropriate SLM techniques; appropriate SLM techniques are properly applied by farmers in pilot sites and Subject Matter Specialists are equipped with SLM techniques.
The first part of the project is to carry out research in order to identify the appropriate technologies and combinations. The second part is to disseminate these appropriate technologies to farmers.
So far the project has made substantial achievements for example they have managed to conduct baseline surveys in order to draw lessons and identify common techniques; the project has successfully equipped the laboratory at Lunyangwa Research Station for soil testing and developed manuals and procedures including training of laboratory staff.
Fully equipped soil laboratory showing central table for physic-chemical analysis and some key equipment including Spectrophotometer and Kjeldahl semi-micro distillation apparatus (Lunyangwa Agricultural Research Station).
In addition to this the project has also trained lead farmers and extension workers in the research protocol who in turn have successfully mounted demonstration plots in the project sites.
Overview of compost heaps prepared by different composting methods, environment and organic materials under the project research protocol (Left: Lunyangwa Agricultural Research Station, Right: Ntchenachena Sub-Agricultural Research Station in Rumphi district).
The project has now reached a stage where all the necessary preparations for the research have been completed. In principle the process in which appropriate technologies will be identified and later on disseminated to farmers has commenced. The project is collaborating with a number of stakeholders so that the work is not done in isolation. This will enable the outcome of the research to be widely accepted and adopted.