Potential of legume diversification in soil fertility management and food security for resource poor farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Potential of legume diversification in soil fertility management and food security for resource poor farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa

Joseph Kalonga, Ernest R Mbega, Kelvin Mtei
J. Bio. Env. Sci.11( 6), 192-205, December 2017.
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Declines in soil fertility and its effect on crop production is a major problem in sub Saharan Africa. It is a major factor limiting crop production and consequently food security in agrarian communities. The causes of soil fertility decline on smallholder farms in Southern and East Africa include continuous cropping without sufficient soil replenishment, degradation through erosion and leaching, and limited biological nitrogen-fixation. Using inorganic fertilizers to address this problem doesn’t add organic matter and is not accessible for small scale farming communities who cannot access fertilizer or afford the high costs of purchase. In this review, we explore the literature on legume diversification as part of a sustainable approach to fertility management. Legumes in the farming systems can improve soil fertility through the rhizobium-legume symbiotic relationship (referred to as biological nitrogen fixation (BNF), and have the potential to enhance soil organic matter and conserve other soil resources as well. In addition legumes can provide multipurpose roles by contributing food, fodder and fuel to households. The information that is compiled in this review is vital to guide research efforts and farmers to integrate more relevant legume crops into their farming systems, particularly those types of legumes which produce large amounts of vegetative biomass that can be used to ameliorate soil fertility for enhanced food production and security.


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