IAPRI is conducting a training for a SIDA Baseline Survey, ‘Our Future-farmer Know Your Soil’ campaign that they are scheduled to embark on. The project aims to promote area-specific fertilizer use and investments in soil management practices to enhance the efficacy of fertilizer use, productivity, and farm profitability.
The campaign will be as a result of the noted low use of fertilizer in Zambia associated with high cost, leading to low profitability for smallholder farmers. Despite the government implementing the outgoing Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) to improve access and use of fertilizer, poor soil conditions have hindered its effectiveness. A study by Chamberlin et al. (2021) showed that 30% of farms in their sample had soil that was unresponsive to fertiliser.
IAPRI will partner with key stakeholders on the campaign, including the government of Zambia, private sector, universities, NGOs, and cooperating partners interested in supporting soil health, productivity, and smallholder livelihoods and piloted in select districts before scaling it to other districts. The Farmer Know Your Soil campaign will be piloted in two districts, targeting 150 farmers per zone in three zones per district, with the aim of reaching 2,700 smallholder farmers directly and approximately 5,000 indirectly. IAPRI will work with the Ministry of Agriculture to select districts and camps to target and train zonal ambassadors to serve as resource persons at the community level.
It is worth noting that efforts to promote conservation agriculture and climate smart practices have also failed to improve fertilizer use profitability and crop productivity. This is mainly because the soils in Africa are inherently fragile, coupled with deforestation, erosion, vegetation removal and continuous cropping, this has led to large decreases in soil health. The African Union Commission is holding a Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit in June 2023 to address concerns about agricultural sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change, and Zambia needs to come up with an innovative fertilizer and soil health action plan to lead its peers in improving agricultural product productivity growth.