Production and use of Rhizobial inoculants in Africa
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Inoculation studies have been conducted in Africa since the 1950s and the benefits of inoculation of legumes with suitable rhizobial strains have been amply demonstrated. Despite the clear evidence of response to inoculation by legume crops, there is relatively little use of inoculants by smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Several programmes aimed at promoting the use of inoculants in smallholder farms have been supported by national governments, especially in East and southern Africa (e.g. Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe). Such programmes were often run with funding from international agencies, such as the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). While the projects lasted, some increase in inoculant use was often recorded. However, the scale of adoption declined once the projects came to an end. The various regions within sub-Saharan Africa have had varying degrees of success in promoting inoculant production and use. Table 1 shows some of the existing inoculant plants and their capacity. Some of the problems identified for the lack of sustainability of inoculant production in Africa include poorly developed marketing channels, inadequate quality assurance as well as inadequate capacity within the extension sector.
- Faculty of Agriculture