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Groundnut yield, returns to go up

Expectations are high that groundnut production in the country will grow by 50 percent in the next harvesting season following the establishment of inoculant for the crop.

Inoculants are a form of modified organic fertilisers that have been developed to ensure there is adequate nitrogen in the soil for optimum production.

The inoculant was launched in Lilongwe recently by the Malawi Oil Seeds Sector Transformation (Most) and the United States Agency for International Development’s Feed the Future Malawi Agriculture Diversification Activity, following a study that was conducted on market systems in the sector.

Most Intervention Lead in the soy bean sector, Towera Jalakasi, pointed out that the inoculant has been developed to address low yields that have been registered over the years in groundnuts production.

“We conducted a study and one of the findings was that the yields were low because there was no inoculant on the market. We went further to establish why there was no inoculant on the market and we found that it was being developed by the public sector. We, therefore, identified a private sector company that was willing to invest in the production and marketing of the inoculant,” Jalakasi said.

She added that engaging a private company will ensure that the fertiliser is readily available on the market and accessible to all the farmers in the country.

Director of Agriculture Research Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Wilkison Makumba, said such coordination between the government and the private sector will go a long way in boosting agriculture production in the country.

“We use organic fertilisers for the other crops but, when it comes to legumes, it has been a belief that we do not need to apply any fertilisers, which is not true, and the establishment of this groundnut inoculant is very much crucial as it will enhance nitrogen content in the soil,” Makumba said.

According to Chairperson of the Donor Committee for Agriculture and Food Security, Lynn Schneider, 100,000 groundnut farmers have been targeted to access the inoculants in the 2017/18 season.

She added that after use of the inoculants, production is expected to grow by 30 to 50 percent.

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