International and local agriculturists have warned that the country risks suffering significant poor crop productivity in its Malawi 2063 (MW2063) agenda implementation if it fails to contain soil erosion which is degrading swathes of farm land.
The experts, who included United States based University of Florida research professor Pedro Sanchez, have since urged government to use the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) to promote products that preserve soil health.
Speaking in Lilongwe on Thursday during the seventh Ndizotheka Eminent Speaker Series which engages experts from different backgrounds to discuss ways of transforming the country’s development landscape, Sanchez called for integration of soil preservation interventions in the AIP.
Sanchez hailed the AIP as a crucial initiative that has helped the country to be food secure.
He, however, cautioned that failure to boost soil health would render the programme meaningless in future.
Among others, he asked government to use the AIP to enhance legumes farming and use of organic fertilisers which he said are efficient in enriching the soils.
In his contribution, Luanar head of crop and soil science Patson Nalivata disclosed that the country annually loses 30 tonnes of soil per hectare.
He said: “Quantification of the element in that particular loss is that we are losing up 108 kilogrammes of nitrogen per hectare and up to 300 kilogrammes of available phosphorous. What this means is that you are losing three percent of 50-kilogramme fertiliser bag through losing that soil.”
Meanwhile, director of agriculture research services in the Ministry of Agriculture Wilkson Makumba said government is taking steps to incorporate soil fertility enhancement initiatives in the AIP.
“We have done research where we have recommended that we reduce the use of inorganic fertilisers and also incorporate legumes in the AIP like it was in the past.”