A major factor in food security on smallholder farms in Eastern African countries is their significantly smaller yields when compared with those of more developed nation states. Typically, smallholders cannot afford to purchase sufficient traditional fertilisers sold on global markets to maintain concentrations of major soil nutrients for enhancing crop yield; long-distance transport of fertilisers significantly increases their market cost. Lack of access to affordable fertiliser in Africa is an acute problem, resulting in low fertiliser application rates.
Increasing the use of indigenous, lower-cost sources of mineral fertilisers is recognised as one of the main ways to enhance crop yields in eastern Africa. Our research will investigate the potential for indigenous mineral deposits being used to produce a cost-effective source of fertiliser nutrients to increase yields on smallholder farms. Our aim is to enhance understanding of the efficient use of indigenous fertiliser both in terms of supply and the minimisation of nutrient losses from the land, which can be a source of pollution.