Halima Jawadu Siyame, 40, is a single mother from Chikombo Village, Nkhotakota, rural Malawi. Just like most rural Malawians, especially women, poverty is a big challenge to her. Food security is always chief among the challenges. Ensuring that rural subsistence farmers like Halima have enough food to feed themselves and have surplus to sell, will help uplift thousands if not millions of people from poverty.
One of the ways of helping them realize more yields in their fields is by producing fertilizer blends that are specific to their areas. This will ensure that they use fertilizer that is appropriate for the socio-economic conditions of the farmers. Blanket fertilizer blends tend to disadvantage farmers where soil and other conditions are different.
To encourage farmers to adopt the new blends, the department has allowed them to carry out trials of the different available blends in their fields. 40 year-old Siyame is one of those farmers.
“I have two maize fields. One I have used our traditional methods here. The other one I planted hybrid seed and fertilizer that I was given by the department to try out. We used less fertilizer on that field but the yields are very good. For the traditional one the yields are poor yet I also applied fertilizers,” says the mother of three.
A number of farmers in the area have been trying the fertilizer blends so that in the end they can chose the one that gives them better yields. “The idea is that the farmers themselves try the different varieties and methods. This will help them make an informed decision and easily adopt the technologies since they were involved in the trials.” Says Deputy Director of Land Resources Gilbert Kupunda.
As for Halima, she can only smile at the quality and big size of cobs in the field. I am harvesting enough maize this year thanks to this project. I will be able to feed my children and my grandmother whom I also keep in my house. We have seen that this new blend is good for our soil here.” She says adding that the farmers in the area have selected 23-10-5+65+1Zn. “We will not be using C.A.N anymore here because we don’t harvest a lot,” Says the proud farmer who is confident she will buy corrugated iron sheets from the proceeds this year.
The Department of Land Resources in Malawi, with funding from the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) leveraging the support provided by development partners under Multi donor trust fund and IFAD. It is being implemented by the Department of Land Resources Conservations, AFAP and Story Workshop Education Trust jointly.
It aims to fast-track finalization of national soil nutrient deficient maps, develop and validate area specific fertilizer blends and create awareness on new fertilizer blends.