Victor Maphosa recently in MHONDORO
THE Government is decentralising soil testing services to all provinces for easy access by farmers.
Dubbed “Blitz Soil Conditioning Programme”, the campaign will see the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, establishing eight laboratories across the country to assist in overcoming soil acidity challenges.
The programme involves countrywide soil testing and application of lime to sweeten acidic soils and consequently improve fertiliser uptake efficiency (FUE) and yields.
Soil acidity is the greatest soil fertility challenge that renders soils unproductive owing to low fertiliser use efficiency, unavailability of major nutrients and direct damage to crops.
Officiating at the Blitz Soil Conditioning and Good Quality Seeds under Pfumvudza/Intwasa demonstration held in Ward 4, Mhondoro district last week, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, Dr John Basera urged farmers to have their soil tested to ensure productivity.
“As the ministry, we are rolling out the Blitz Soil Conditioning Programme which has two facets in terms of its implementation modalities,” he said.
“The first one is raising awareness in terms of soil pH (acidity/alkalinity), in terms of the importance of the soil condition. Issues of soil pH are very important. When pH is low, the nutrients uptake by the plant is low. Because of the continuous use of our soils some chemical reactions which normally affects soil pH occur.
“Most of our soils in Zimbabwe have a low pH and this means nutrients uptake will be compromised and yields are compromised. This is one of the reasons why farmers realise low yields.”
Dr Basera said phase two was the decentralisation of soil testing services.
“In the next two weeks, we will be having eight well-capacitated laboratories in all the eight agricultural provinces to carry out soil testing for farmers,” he said. “Farmers can form clusters guided by our extension officers, and take their soil samples to the laboratories for prescriptions in terms of addressing soil condition issues.”
The programme is part of the Agricultural Recovery Plan where Government is reversing the negative trends in terms of food production.
After the soil is analysed, Government will distribute lime so that farmers are able to condition their soil.
Though the service will not be for free, Dr Basera said they were looking at making it affordable to all farmers.