Impact studies have shown that huge gaps between the average national maize yield and the actual varietal potential are due to low fertilizer use efficiencies owing to the mismatch between the fertilizer type, rates, time of application and the underlying soil conditions.
Although the knowledge on fertilizer blending is available, it is not accessible by the fertilizer companies for use in development of better blends.
It is for this reason that LUANAR together with African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) Agriculture and Food Security Centre-Colombia University, International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA jointly organized a two-day workshop where stakeholders deliberated on ways of fast tracking the development and promotion of area and crop specific fertilizers including blends.
Speaking to LUANAR Newsletter during the opening of the workshop at BICC, Controller of Agricultural Services in the Ministry of Agriculture Mr Gray Nyandule Phiri commended the scientists and stakeholders from the fertilizer value chain for coming together to find solutions to the current challenges faced in the fertilizer sector.
He said government is committed to support the efforts of the scientists and private sector in moving away from the blanket fertilizer recommendations towards locality crop specific recommendations.
“Government is committed to the reform efforts that will make Malawi grow a vibrant policy and has already reviewed the fertilizer bill,” said Mr Nyandule Phiri.
In his remarks, LUANAR Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Emmanuel Kaunda said his institution was proud to be part of the initiative saying the workshop was an opportunity to link research results into practical use by bringing the researchers and business partners together.
Prof Kaunda said the workshop was timely as it comes when the country is experiencing yield gap which lead to low return on investment at the farmer or national level.
He said in order to achieve better crop yields and return on investment it is crucial to replace the commonly used blanket fertilizer recommendations with site or regional specific recommendations.
He further thanked AGRA for supporting this initiative as well as for the support it renders to LUANAR.
Malawi is one of the very few countries in Africa that has accomplished the 2006 Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer recommendation of African countries reaching the target of 50kg/ha use of fertilizer by 2015.