Improve access and dissemination of harmonized ISFM information by stakeholders in agriculture research and development.
The overall objective of the consortium is to compile, share and scale up Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) technologies in Malawi in order to improve food security and income among small-scale and resource-poor farmers in agriculture research and development.
There are nearly 2.6 M smallholder farming households in Malawi involved in maize-based cropping systems most of which leave the soil prone to degradation. For example, most farmers harvest more nutrient than they add, leading to negative nutrient balances. Also, poor crop management practices, including use of unimproved or recycled hybrid varieties, low planting densities and poor fertilizer practices leave the soil bare for most parts of the rainy season, leading to erosion.
Many farmers get low fertilizer use efficiency factors due to delays in fertilizer deliveries, poor weed management, or use of varieties prone to disease. This results in high cost of producing food and may slow national economic growth. Most of these causes to soil fertility decline can be solved through coordinated, collaborative and informative approaches to empower farmers’ capacity understand and to adopt available technologies that enhance both crop yields and soil fertility. As an example, groundnut can produce 1.4 to 6.7 t/ha of stover containing 52-154 kg ha-1 (Giller et al., 1999). Ngwira (2012) showed complimentary grain yield benefits of ≥ 1.0 t/ha for maize grown after groundnut over fertilized maize. Some new soybean genotypes can produce 2-4 t/ha of stover. The MSHC aims to inform all stakeholders along the soil health value chain on available and appropriate technologies on soil management. Through stakeholder mapping of on-going initiatives, the consortium will promote some of the technologies through various knowledge products including fliers, technical briefs, website, coordinated field days, radio and TV documentaries, and annual meetings. These efforts will be aimed at complementing the larger efforts of Malawi Government through the FISP and Green Belt Initiative and other ISFM research and extension efforts so as to improve crop productivity. Raising productivity of maize-based systems will improve livelihoods, and farmer capacity of smallholder farmers to invest in soil health. The formation and operationalization of a consortium is expected to increase productivity in the following ways:-
The country level soil health consortia project is an initiative of key agricultural actors to solve the problem of food insecurity and poverty through bringing together all the professionals, industrial actors and market players in the agricultural value chain to consolidate, synthesize and develop effective messages key in revolutionizing agricultural production in Africa.
The consortia were set up through funding from AGRA on the premise that a lot has been done in Africa, but the actual impact on household food security and incomes is not evident. The East and Southern Africa mandate consisting of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda, Mozambique and Ethiopia is led by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI). Read more
The Malawi Soil Health Consortium is partnering with national and regional institutions or organizations all dealing with ISFM aspects.