Jul 23, 2019 | Updated: 09:15 AM EDT

Soil Microbes Help African Farmers: Micro-Organisms Provide Crop Protection And Boost Productivity

Mar 15, 2017 03:04 AM EDT

Soil Microbes
(Photo : Scott Olson/Getty Images) Now Soil Microbes will help African farmers to protect and increase their yield

Modern day agriculture has seen many new techniques being implemented in order to enhance soil fertility and eradication of various problems. One such unique concept is the usage of "soil microbes". A number of new companies, start-ups, and partnerships between companies and universities are on a rise to facilitate the farmers with commercial microbial remedies.

According to Scientific American, soil microbes is already being used in countries like the US, Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Australia. Farmers are implementing them in order to increase the productivity of the crops and build resilience within the crops to deal with climatic changes. Countries in the Asia-Pacific region are also gradually getting into the practice of using the microbial agricultural products. It is being assumed that by 2021, the microbial products market will be worth $5.07 billion.

However, there has not been any such significant progress in the field of using soil microbes in agriculture in the African countries. The African continent soil is full of beneficial soil microbes and can be used to increase crop yields from the lands at the disposal of the farmers. Invention and application of the soil microbes in agriculture can be helpful especially for farmers with small parcels of land and fewer resources for growing crops.

According to Phys.org, a team of microbiologists from the US, the Netherlands and Ethiopia has come together to initiate a new five-year long project on soil microbes named "Promise" (Promoting Root Microbes for Integrated Striga Eradication). It is meant to eradicate a parasitic plant known as "Striga", which feasts on the roots of crops grown in the African continent. Known as the "witch plant", Striga accounts for 50% of the total yield loss in the Sub-Saharan areas of Africa.

 "Promise" is a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is pretty sure of providing a sustainable solution to this age old problem faced by African farmers. For this, the scientists are seeking cooperation from the local farmers. The rendition of proper training and educating the farmers about the importance and usage of soil microbes in agriculture is the main job that the team is looking into.

The scientists are trying to sort out more than one way to protect the crops from the ill effects of "Striga" and other harmful parasites. They opine that the soil microbes present in the African soil can give them the solution they seek. The practical applications of the research are expected to occur ten years later.

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