Inorganic fertilizers destroy Uganda’s soil, environment

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A farmer applies fertilizer on maize crop

Agriculture experts have attributed the reduction in crop productivity and pollution in Uganda to farmers who wrongly apply inorganic fertilizers.

The principal agriculture officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Ms Imelda Kanzomba, says farmers are depleting about 1.2 percent of the soil nutrients annually due to wrong use of inorganic fertilizers.

This also accounts to 26 percent pollution of the atmosphere annually, she reveals.

Ms Kanzomba says that farmers in Uganda use 24 kgs of fertilizers per hectare every year resulting in a 0.31 percent decrease in crop productivity.

This leads to leaf blights and also polluting the water below the plant with excess chemicals.

The agriculturalist recommends that organic and inorganic manure should be used together on farms to complement each other.

Mr Dickson Kabagambe, the chairman of Jinja District Farmers Federation says most farmers use inorganic fertilizers without technical advice on top of not knowing how to apply them properly for particular crops and in scientific quantities.

Mr Kabagambe adds that fallowing is a lost farming practice due to land fragmentation and the desire to plough the land all the time.

Dr Dick Nuwamanya, the President of Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNAFFE) says most farmers in Uganda lack knowledge in fertilizer application.

UNAFFE has close to 3.31 million registered farmers, but less than one million have trained and acquired certificates in fertilizer application and crop management in Uganda.

According to Mr David Kureeba, the officer in charge of Biodiversity and Forestry at the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), wrong use and dependence on inorganic chemical fertilizers affects the environment by increasing levels of nitrogen which trap heat in the atmosphere thereby causing drought, blights crop leaves and kills soil organisms necessary for plant growth.

He says despite Uganda’s soils losing fertility and needing to be replenished, farmers should opt for land fallowing or use of organic fertilizers in order to save soil bacteria.

Inorganic fertilizers like NPK, Glyphosate and DAP contain chemicals like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous which when applied wrongly kill soil organisms and also, pollute the environment.

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