By Felicia Imohimi
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) says it has commenced a-three-year identification of balanced fertiliser blends in Nigeria to augment for nutrients deficiency in the soil.
Prof. Victor Chude, AGRA Fertiliser Systems Project Coordinator, disclosed this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
AGRA is a farmer-centered, African-led and partnerships-driven institution that is transforming Africa’s smallholder farming from a solitary struggle to survive to businesses that thrive.
It deals with improving agricultural products and supporting local farm owners and labour.
Chude added that the intervention will remedy the current practice of using generic fertiliser blends and blankets application rates across the country.
He said the project, which is being piloted in two states of Niger and Kaduna, is aimed at strengthening fertiliser systems partnership for the production of balanced fertiliser blends in the country.
He emphasised that the use of balanced fertiliser blend is required to augment for nutrient deficiencies in soils, adding that facilitating the sustainable maximisation of the genetic potentials of crops has been proven by a good number of studies.
The coordinator explained that the primary objective of the intervention is to catalyse the production and use of appropriate crop and soil specific fertiliser blends to enhance maize, rice and soybean production in the pilot states.
“Based on success recorded in the two piloted states, extend to other states across the country.
“One of the common agricultural practices in Nigeria is the use of generic fertiliser blends to address issues of soil fertility.
“This practice across various regions is often without investigations to determine unique challenges common to that region ultimately negates the specificity of soil nutrient requirements.
“It also undermines the benefits of secondary and micro-nutrients required for crop growth and the production of highly nutritious food.
“To say the least, inappropriate formulation and often-misguided use of organic/mineral fertilisers is a setback to the achievement of food and nutrition security in Nigeria and many other African countries.
“Although East African countries like Kenya (with support from AGRA) and Zambia are fast promoting the adoption of balanced fertilisers,” he said.
Chude explained that the methodology involves soil testing, on-field evaluation trials, use of visual ranking and technical yield evaluations to assess the performance of the fertiliser blends on maize, rice and soybean commodity value-chains at designated locations.
The coordinator, who described the benefits as numerous, says they include an increase in productivity which is expected to drive demand for these blends.
According to him, blanket fertilisation of soils should be passionately discouraged at all levels nationwide.
“The results of initial field trials show that crop/site specific fertiliser blends can improve productivity of crops by at least 25 to 40 per cent while improving their nutrient content.
“This translates to economically efficient parameters with a multiplier effect, as it would increase income for affected stakeholders including fertiliser blending plants, agro-input distributors and farmers.
“It will as well as possibly encourage more investors into the agricultural sector thereby stimulating economic growth. This is a great stride towards improving the business of agriculture in Nigeria,” he stressed.
The coordinator further stated that for the trials, three crops and soil specific formulations were adopted for the focus commodity value-chains.
These formulations, according to him, are a blend of NPK with appropriate mixes of secondary and micronutrients such as Sulphur, Boron, Zinc and Calcium as required.
“Since 2019, approximately 1,500 demonstration plots have been established for trials, while an approximately 2,500 farmers and 40 fertiliser producing companies have been actively engaged in realising the goal of the project.
“One of the next steps will be to acquire optimal land area required to optimize the yield effects on individual crop enterprises and aggregate them into nutrient requirements for statewide application in standard formulations.
“This is targeted at the policy instruments of relevant government agencies to promote the use of appropriate fertiliser blends for production of different crops.
“In addition, fertiliser blenders would be encouraged to invest in and produce more of balanced fertiliser blends,” he said. (NAN)