Low-tech methods improve crop yields


farming family

Low crop yields are fundamental barriers to the ability of many African countries to feed their own people.

10 April 2002 | Trees, shrubs and rocks help sub-Saharan farmers increase crop yields two to four-fold, providing strong evidence that soil fertility replenishment programs should be expanded, a campus researcher says.

Visiting professor Pedro Sanchez says the high cost in Africa of commercial fertilizer has put it out of reach for most farmers, and the soil is becoming increasingly barren. But with new replenishment program, farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are seeing higher crop yields. The programs involve the use of decaying vegetation and crushed rocks, which are mixed into the soil.

Low crop yields are a fundamental barrier to the ability of African nations to feed their people. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where per capita food production has remained stagnant over the past 40 years, said Sanchez, a senior research fellow at the campusís Center for Sustainable Resource Development. He launched the experimental programs a decade ago as director-general of the International Center for Research in Agroforestry.


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