Interest in soil fertility issues has recently become a topic of interest, leading to several declarations that emphasize the importance of soil quality for sustainable development. However, despite these actions, soil nutrient depletion is continuing and sometimes worsening in Uganda. Unlike other forms of environmental degradation, declining soil fertility is often invisible and, when it does become visible through cascading effects, it is often too late. Restoration is then only possible at very high cost.
This is why immediate action is needed as it is crucial to preserve this ‘pantry’ storage function of the soil. This is why AgriProFocus network Uganda in collaboration with SoilCares organised a dedicated half-day consultative meeting into various aspects of the soil such as soil management and soil fertility, smarter cultivation systems of a larger diversity of crops, smarter grazing by cattle, and manure as a nutrient.
Soil testing technology is something farmers will need to better understand their importance in increasing productivity of the soils. The soil care clinic and community of practice discussed a systemic change in agriculture needed to counter current threats. Key players in the required transition are smallholders.
They have been and will continue to be the country’s largest food producers. The meeting established a Community of Practice (COP) to be chaired by AgriProFocus member Jimmy Ouni. In the COP’s view, new approaches to increase the productive capacity of soils should be based on Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM).
This includes the application of both mineral fertilizers and organic manures. The integration of the previously separate worlds of supplies of inputs, local interventions and recycling of nutrients is what is needed. The COP expects that this will increase the use of nutrients, their efficiency and, most importantly, volumes of agricultural produce.
Subsequently, the COP will among other things handle:
1. Follow up on the Soils Fertility, 2001
2. The prevalence of Fake In-puts
3. Limited knowledge by farmers on Soil management
4. Need for rural based demo farms
5. The need for innovative tools to diagonize the soil diseases
6. Promote Public Private Partnership
7. Follow up with Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF) on the initiative of registering Agro-input dealers
8. Potential partners with Soil Cares that can further distribute the innovations