In the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, an underlying threat to agriculture is intensifying: soil acidity. The issue has gained prominence and becomes a matter of grave concern. Delving into the mission to mitigate this challenge, Kilimokwanza.org connected with Japhet Laizer, the Associate Program Officer of AGRA.
Laizer shed light on the proactive measures undertaken by AGRA: “Our core intervention revolves around fostering a sustainable farming ecosystem, with family farmers being pivotal to this objective. The focus is to bolster these farmers’ efforts to combat soil acidity.”
For those unfamiliar with the nuances of agriculture, soil acidity is a crucial determinant of crop health. Excessively acidic soils can stifle crop growth, translating into diminished yields and looming food shortages.
Illustrating the severity of the problem in the Southern Highlands, Laizer remarked, “The elevated pH levels are alarming. A significant expanse of the Southern Highland is grappling with heightened soil acidity.”
The real battle, however, lies in identifying the issue and raising awareness at the foundational level. Laizer expressed his concerns, noting, “It’s disconcerting to realize that nearly 90% of the farmers in the region remain oblivious to the acidic alterations in their soil.”
A common misconception leads farmers to employ more fertilizer, believing it to be the remedy. But this approach, rather than alleviating, intensifies the problem. Laizer elucidated, “Excessive fertilizer application only escalates the acidity levels, setting in motion a detrimental cycle.”
AGRA, , is steering away from merely highlighting concerns and is actively paving the path for innovative solutions. “Our collaborations span private sectors producing agro lime, ensuring they buttress the distribution network to facilitate end-to-end delivery to farmers via agro-dealers,” shared Laizer. Agro lime is instrumental in neutralizing acidic soils, reinstating the soil’s pH equilibrium.
Additionally, AGRA is mobilizing community engagement. “We’re orchestrating campaigns to heighten awareness, equipping families with knowledge on acidity levels, and endorsing techniques like AgroLife to enhance crop yields by counteracting soil acidity,” added Laizer.
Laizer envisioned, “Our unwavering commitment to these initiatives is geared towards revamping our food systems and elevating the quality of life for our farmers.”