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NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Vegetable traders go about their daily work at a market in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, June 25, 2014. United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) has emphasized on the need to increase agricultural produce and on ways of conserving environmental challenges. XINHUA PHOTO: SAM NDIRANGU

African researchers urge farmers to
embrace intercropping farming system

ARUSHA, Tanzania, (Xinhua) -- A team of agricultural researchers on Tuesday urged farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to embrace intercropping farming system and the effective use of organic fertilizers for high productivity and soil well-being.

The experts from Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique and Malawi made the call in northern Tanzania’s capital of Arusha at a gathering organized by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Stephen Lyimo, a project coordinator with AGRA-Tanzania, disclosed that farming using organic fertilizers and intercropping was beneficial to Africa’s smallholder farmers, describing the farming system as the practical application of ecological principles such as diversity, crop interaction and other natural regulation mechanisms.

He said that agricultural sector in the region is faced with myriad challenges including climate change and reduction of soil fertility caused by poor farming methods, hence the need for farmers to change their ways of farming remained important.

Lyimo, also a senior researcher with the Arusha-based Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), said the use of organic fertilizers ensure farmers high productivity as well as improves soil fertility.

“Intercropping and effective use of organic fertilizers in farming is a solution towards increasing yields of farmers,” the official said, adding: “It is high time for farmers to change the way of doing things in farming and embark into effective use of farm inputs which are friendly to the environment,” he said.

The expert said that in Tanzania organic fertilizer is available and produced on the Lake Manyara shores, located in northern part of the country.

He said that there are farmers who have started embracing the new farming techniques, effectively using organic Minjingu fertilizers and realizing its potentialities.

Nestory Mangali, an agricultural researcher with AGRA in Nairobi, Kenya, described intercropping as the one of the best farming practices that need to be embraced for high productivity and profitability, advising farmers to get into the new farming system.

“This is a very recommendable efforts we need more African farmers to embrace the spirits,” Rwandan Agricultural researcher Innocent Uwimana said, “We need more farmers of this nature to boost soil well-being as well as increasing productivity.”

Tanzania’s project coordinator of AGRA, Stephen Lyimo, said the use of organic fertilizers ensures farmers high productivity as well as improves soil fertility.

“I am expecting to harvest 25-30 bags of maize per acre, which is three times of the previous production. And for pigeonpeas production has been doubled from 2-3 bags to 5-8 bags per acre. This has been a result of applying phosphorous fertilizers and intercropping,” said Pascal Tonge, 53, One of the project beneficiaries in Babati district of Manyara region.

Since 2009/2010, AGRA has been is implementing a project on Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC), which contributes towards radical change in the understanding and use of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) techniques in sub-Saharan Africa, whereby smallholder farmers are empowered to improve their crop yields.

The project is meant to address the problem of soil fertility by introducing application of different sources of phosphorous fertilizers—DAP, Minjingu Phosphate Rock and Minjingu mazao in maize-pigeonpea cropping system.

In Tanzania, the project is implemented in Arumeru, Siha, Moshi, Kilosa, and Gairo districts of Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Morogoro regions.

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