Agency offers new technology for maize production (Zambia)

Maize (corn) farming in Zambia is characterised by low productivity due to low soil fertility, drought, floods and under-usage of inputs like costly fertilizers.
To increase and stabilise maize production in southern Africa, it is necessary to develop locally adapted maize varieties with improved tolerance to drought and nitrogen stress.
A study by the University of Zambia’s School of Agricultural Sciences, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), showed that coated fertilizer technology can be highly effective in increasing maize grain yield at lower rates of nitrogen in medium to high pH soils. High grain yields (5t/ha) could be obtained at half of the recommended rate of nitrogen (100kg/ha), which translated to a significant saving in terms of nitrogen fertilizer inputs and hence
expenditure for an area of 500,000ha of maize. The study results are likely to shape policy on the type of fertilizer used
and fertilizer imports in Zambia.
Collaboration with IAEA offered new technologies and possibilities for increasing crop productivity and reducing the negative environmental effects of other agricultural practices. A maize mutation breeding programme was initiated to develop more nutritious, drought tolerant maize varieties with good performance and acceptability under poor farming conditions in southern Africa. The project has benefitted small and medium-scale producers who cannot afford irrigation for maize production.
The programme also provided staff at the University of Zambia’s School of Agricultural Sciences and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives with training in various techniques and topics related to the nitrogen stable. –