Enhancing Market Access and Use of Agricultural Lime
Research shows soils in Western Kenya is not only acidic but they also suffer from soil nutrient depletion. Farming is not optimal on account of high risks associated with dependence on rain-fed agriculture, high input prices, and low farm-gate prices.
What Informed The Study?
Research shows soils in Western Kenya is not only acidic but they also suffer from soil nutrient depletion.
Farming Is Not Optimal
Farming is not optimal on account of high risks associated with dependence on rain-fed agriculture, high input prices, and low farm- gate prices.
Agricultural productivity is low because of low utilisation of yield-raising inputs, inadequate irrigation, low soil fertility, high soil acidity and reliance on manual labour for farm production.
The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that around 50% of smallholders in western Kenya may be farming soils with pH below 5.5.
Lime As A Remedy For Soil Acidity
Lime is one of the major solutions to soil acidity
The application of agricultural lime, a calcium- containing product processed from limestone, gypsum or dolomite increases the soil pH, reduces the solubility of the toxic elements and increases availability of nutrients to plant roots.
Lime also helps in biological nitrogen fixation in legumes and general microbial activity. Although agricultural lime is produced in Kenya and used by large-scale farmers, historically, its use by small-scale farmers has been low.
Challenges Of Lime Market And Lime Use
Some of the key challenges in the expansion of the lime market and use of lime by farmers included;
Many farmers still expect government and donor agencies to help them acquire lime.
They view the cost of lime as being prohibitive and so they do not perceive lime as a viable way to improve their farming business.
Farmers perceive lime application as a bulky and costly process.
That whereas farmers appreciate that lime is good for correcting soil acidity, they perceive it as a bulky, dusty commodity requiring a lot of labour for application.
Some farmers due to limited knowledge on liming, end up mixing lime and fertiliser during planting.
Also they do not adhere to the recommended lime application rates.
Why Some Farmers Fail To Retest Soil For Acidity
From the study, only two households had redone soil testing. The reasons for not retesting soil were reported to be;
About This Research
Objectives Of The Study
To establish the existing knowledge levels, knowledge gaps and information awareness on lime and soil testing services among smallholder farmers in western Kenya region
To demonstrate the impact of lime use and soil testing services on farm productivity, yields and farmer incomes in western region
To establish uptake levels of lime use and soil testing services among smallholder farmers in western Kenya region
To demonstrate the intervention’s impact on cross-cutting issues, including climate resilience and gender
To establish the change in business performance, market share, sales and revenue for the lime manufacturing partner and its distribution networks through sales of lime and soil testing services
Key Findings From The Study
It appears that some farmers know about soil acidity and liming but not about soil testing
- Not Productive
Sources of Information About Lime
Challenges in Expansion
When To Lime Soils: A big dilemma for most farmers
Lack of clarity on when soils require liming was demonstrated by responses from households. When asked on when soils required lime, three major responses were given: “When there is low crop production”; “when soil acidity is high”; and “during land preparation” These responses accounted for 70% of all the responses. Some respondents had no idea when soils require liming. Other responses included: “during planting”, “when there is low soil fertility”, “after soil testing”, “when there is Striga weed”, and “when top dressing”.