“Use Lime to Tame Soil Acidity,” Farmers Urged

Friday, August 18th, 2023
In a significant development for Kenya’s agricultural sector, the government alongside agriculture stakeholders have strongly recommended the utilization of lime, organic materials, and phosphates, combined with the judicious application of fertilizers to address the issue of high soil acidity in various parts of the country.

The recommendation came during the unveiling of a crucial report titled “Soil Acidity and Liming Handbook for Kenya” . Agricultural experts emphasized that managing soil acidity is key to enhancing soil fertility and ensuring an adequate supply of nutrients to plants.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi, represented by Gilbert Muthee, Director of Agri-business, during a gathering at a Nairobi hotel, stressed the need for promoting effective liming practices and targeted interventions. These measures are seen as pivotal in transforming the agricultural landscape and securing a sustainable future for farmers across the nation.

“To combat soil acidity, the use of lime is highly recommended. The pivotal role of soil health in boosting crop yields cannot be overstated, and there is an urgent need to spread this knowledge among the farming community,” Linturi stated in his address.

Additionally, Linturi revealed the government’s plans to expedite the creation of a national action plan aimed at rehabilitating acidic soils, thereby enhancing food and nutrition security in the country.

He underscored the necessity of strategic research for developing and promoting liming practices, integrated with comprehensive crop, soil, water, and soil fertility management techniques for acidic soils.

The report further highlights the government’s increased budgetary allocation to support agricultural research and knowledge dissemination addressing soil acidity. This is augmented by the need for financing and credit facilities to assist farmers in acquiring, distributing, and utilizing lime.

Moreover, the report suggests the establishment of new regulations and a comprehensive policy framework to regulate lime usage, aligning with current global liming trends.

Compiled by a team of local and international researchers, the report reveals that currently, 13 percent of Kenya’s soils are acidic, affecting approximately 7.5 million hectares or 63 percent of the country’s arable land.

“High soil acidity is a major impediment to crop productivity, particularly in tropical regions. In highly acidic soils, core nutrients become less available, leading to diminished productivity,” added Linturi.

He warned that declining crop yields threaten food and nutritional security, as well as the incomes and livelihoods of millions. The report further notes that the regions most affected by high soil acidity include Kenya’s primary food-producing areas: the Central, Western, and Rift Valley regions, as well as certain parts of the Eastern and Coastal regions.

Anthony Esilaba, one of the report’s authors, pointed out that while farmers and agricultural stakeholders have been focusing on fertilizers, the importance of lime as a crucial nutrient to treat high soil acidity has been largely overlooked.

He elaborated on the causes of soil acidity, which include leaching due to heavy rainfall, decay of organic matter, continuous use of acidifying fertilizers, nutrient uptake and removal by plants, soil erosion, acid rain, and the presence of acid sulfate soils.