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An African perspective on aglime

By Clive Mitchell


In developed countries agricultural lime is a commodity that is largely taken for granted. In the less developed parts of southern Africa, where agriculture plays a crucial role in daily survival, it is often difficult to get hold of, prohibitively expensive and the ‘forgotten input’. This is largely due to the scarcity of production sites, relatively high transport costs and inadequate support for farmers from government agricultural extension services. As part of the UK government-funded research project ‘FarmLime’ agricultural lime production sites in South Africa and Zambia were studied. The operations in the Western Cape work Precambrian marbles and recent marine limestones using modern plants and operate standard supply chains. In contrast, the operations in Zambia work Precambrian marbles using plant that ranges from the moderately well run to the ad hoc, “home made” variety. The market in Zambia is largely confined to the large commercial farms that can afford to transport and apply their own lime. Small-scale farmers, of which there are upwards of 700,000 in Zambia, struggle with acid soils that they cannot afford to lime with the result that they are trapped in the cycle of poverty. The ‘FarmLime’ research project has been working on a means of producing affordable agricultural lime from local sources using a redesigned maize mill. It has also demonstrated the benefits of using agricultural lime to farmers by carrying out simple crop trials with groundnuts and maize.\ud \ud \ud Clive Mitchell is an industrial mineralogy and mineral processing expert who has worked for the British Geological Survey (BGS) for over 12 years. He has worked on several research projects based in southern Africa, funded by the UK Governments Department for International Development (DfID). Clive is the project leader of '‘FarmLime: Low cost lime for small-scale farming”. This project, based in Zambia, has developed a hammer mill that can be used for the small-scale production of agricultural lime for subsistence farmers.\u

Topics: Earth Sciences
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:8833

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