Soil fertility maintenance and food crop production in semi-arid West Africa: Is reliance on manure a sustainable strategy?
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Animal manure is of vital importance in maintaining soil fertility in semiarid west Africa due to the low level of use of inorganic fertilizer. Using data from Niger however, it is shown that insufficient animals are available to provide the manure needed to sustain crop yields on a long-term basis. The limitations posed by animal numbers and feed and other countries in the region, manure alone will not provide the key to attaining sustainable yield levels. External inputs in the form of inorganic fertilizers are needed. However, the gap between present fertilizer use and the required level is wide. To ensure the availability and increased use of fertilizers at the farm level, appropriate public policies are needed to ease the constraints that have inhibited the widespread of fertilizers in semiarid west Africa. This paper examines the question at the household, village and national levels using data from Niger. Its aim is to assess the adequacy of available manure for food crop production, and to determine the role that manure and other soil amendments can play in the future intensification of agricultural production in semiarid West Africa. Unlike previous analyses based on research station trials, this paper uses on-farm data collected through surveys conducted between 1990 and 1992 at three locations in Niger
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