Chemicals ruining Uganda’s soil, environment

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A farmer applies fertilizer on maize crop

Kampala, Uganda | Farmers in Uganda are wrongly applying inorganic fertilizers which has led to pollution and reduction in crop productivity. According to Imelda Kanzomba principal agriculture officer in the Agriculture Ministry, farmers are depleting about 1.2 percent of the soil nutrients annually due to wrong use of inorganic fertilizers and account for 26 percent pollution of the atmosphere annually.

Kanzomba says that farmers in Uganda use 24 kgs of fertilizers per hectare every year leading to a 0.31 percent decrease in crop productivity. This is results to blighting of leaves and also polluting the water below the plant with excess chemicals.

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

For his part, Dickson Kabagambe, chairman Jinja district Farmers Federation says most farmers use inorganic fertilizers without technical advice and don’t know how to apply them properly for particular crops and in scientific quantities. 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, 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 fertilizers application and crop management in Uganda.

According to David Kureeba, the officer in charge of Biodiversity and Forestry at 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 soils organisms necessary for plant growth.

He said 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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