For the much-needed focus they bring on a burning issue, CIMMYT’s Improved Maize for African Soils (IMAS) Project celebrates the Global Soil Week and the International Year of Soils.
Africa’s maize farmers must deal with drought, weeds and pests, but their problems start with degraded, nutrient-starved soils and the farmers’ inability to purchase enough nitrogen fertilizer.
Smallholder maize yields in sub-Saharan Africa are a fraction of those in the developed world, due mainly to the region’s poor soils and farmers’ limited access to fertilizer or improved maize seed. On average, such farmers apply only 9 kilograms of fertilizer per hectare of cropland.
Of that small amount, often less than half is captured by the crop; the rest is leached deep into the soil where plants cannot recover it or otherwise lost. But all is not bleak, and here are some of the solutions from the Improved Maize for African Soils Project.