Although there have been calls to ramp up efforts to design and implement a fertiliser programme that recognises the spatial variability of soil fertility and climatic conditions in the country, Zambia like most countries in Africa, continues to rely heavily on outdated general fertiliser recommendations, which are uniform across geographic locations and crops. This could be one of the main reasons why Zambia continues to record low crop productivity despite government fertilizer subsidy programmes. Using soil analysis and household data collected in rural Zambia, this study presents a comparative analysis of location-specific fertilizer application versus blanket recommendation to demonstrate why it is important for the Zambian government to invest in area-specific fertiliser recommendations in order to raise crop productivity. As expected, the results show that soil fertility varies across the country. This was observed in all the mapped soil properties with ranges of 2.7 to 7.8 for soil pH, 0.08% to 10.1% for soil organic carbon and 1.0 ppm to 333.6ppm for soil Phosphorus. These values belong to different classes in terms of acidities and levels of adequacy and deficiency. These results indicate that blanket fertiliser recommendations, or even liming, may not be well suited across the entire country. Instead, they support the need for Zambia to promote area-specific fertiliser recommendations. It is recommended that soil testing be promoted as part of extension messages, and that the government’s Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) should consider including soil testing as a requirement for the subsidy.
Chapoto, Antony; Chabala, Lydia M.; and Lungu, Olipa N.
"A Long History of Low Productivity in Zambia: Is it Time to Do Away with Blanket Recommendations?,"
Zambia Social Science Journal: Vol. 6
, Article 6.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.cornell.edu/zssj/vol6/iss2/6