Kalahari sands redefine agriculture

By Mhlomuli Ncube

KALAHARI sands which cover a large part of Southern Africa are infertile and not suited for intensive agriculture.

The Bubi-Lupane Irrigation scheme has, however, re-written that story.

Those who toiled on the lands have since looked for a solution to mitigate against the shortage of water in the area and also how to make the soils fertile.

 The strategy came from experts who argued that no matter how much of a desert the area was, it could be turned around into yield producing lands.

“We came in with zero till instead of the normal tillage that we do in other areas, we looked at the altitude of the area, at summary we looked at basically the sustainable magnitude of the soil resources of the Kalahari Sands and adoption of the best management practices,” explained ARDA CEO, Mr Tinotenda Mhiko.

Now hosting almost 200 hectares of productive maize and cereals, the desert area is testimony that no target is unreachable if science is allowed to take precedence.

“The first step being sustainable management of desert Kalahari Sands through zero to planting and subsequent buildup of organic matter through the style of soil testing , prospecting and other means, to determine the amount of fertilizers required. It was more of a prescriptive fertilizer application,” he added.

The testimony that has seen Kalahari Sands yield fruitful harvest could be a Zimbabwean template of how science and technology can turn around things particularly in the agricultural sector which is the mainstay of the country’s economic development.