Uganda: Soils Losing Fertility in Eastern Region - Study

Bulambuli — A study carried out by soil scientists from the Zonal Agriculture Research Development Institute (Zardi) at Buginyanya Centre in Bulambuli District, has revealed that soils in the eastern region have lost fertility due to over cultivation.

The study was conducted in the districts of Mt Elgon, Bukedi and Busoga sub-regions in June this year.

While addressing officials from Ministry of Agriculture at the centre on Monday, Ms Eseri Nankyam, a soil scientist warned that if no immediate measure is taken by the government, the region will face food insecurity.

"Soils are getting old and weathered, meaning they are becoming less productive due to over cultivation. This has impacted on the productivity of the crops in the region," she said.

Ms Nankyam said farmers who previously harvested three to five kilogrammes of coffee berries per tree only get one or two, an indicator that there is a big problem.

Causes

She attributed the loss of fertility to poor farming methods and natural disasters.

"The soils are usually eroded during torrential rains which leave the ground bare with unproductive layers. During landslides, most soils and nutrients are covered underneath," she said.

She added: "Less productivity means food insecurity and it is disastrous with the ever increasing population in the country,"

Ms Nankyam, however, said despite the existing challenges, they have come up with measures to curb the challenges.

"We are conducting research on how to solve these problems. We have conducted studies on how to reduce leaching of soil nutrients," she said.

Mr Lawrence Owere, a researcher and the principal of Buginyanya Zardi, said if nothing is done within 10 years, the region and the country at large will face massive hunger.

"If we don't practise conservation methods, we shall have only stones left," he said.

Mr Juma Ndokero, an official with National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO) urged framers to use organic fertilisers to replenish the soils.

"We should popularise the use of organic fertilisers and the farmers should be trained in land management principles to avoid soil run-off," he said.

Establishment of a plant

Mr Charles Ssembatya, the hub coordinator for Vegetable Oil Development, in eastern region called for massive sensitisation on better farming methods.

He said the establishment of a fertiliser plant in Tororo District is one of the measures to help farmers harvest good yields. "This would cut the cost of fertilisers in Uganda so that farmers get high yields from their crops" he said.

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