In Africa, mineral fertilizer remains a scarce, expensive, and risky resource for most smallholder farmers. On average, farmers use less than 10 kg/ha of NPK fertilizer; and many do not apply it at all. The price of fertilizer is 3-5 times higher in Africa than in Europe due to the lack of infrastructure and production facilities, often making it unaffordable and sometimes inaccessible to farmers. Fertilizer is primarily applied to higher value and horticulture crops that, unlike maize, give farmers a greater return on their investment.
Farmers in southern Africa plant maize extensively on large areas, harvest less than 2 t/ha on average, extracting already depleted nutrients from the soil while trying to become food secure and escape from poverty―an impossible task!
In Eastern Province of Zambia, farmers are being offered a range of solutions by Africa RISING that provide a way out of this poverty trap. These technologies, options, and approaches include drought- and stress-tolerant maize germplasm, conservation agriculture (CA), improved rotation and intercropping with grain legumes, agroforestry, and green manure cover crops. See more