Rhizobia inoculants are bacteria that form a symbiotic relationship with legume plants forming nodules on the plant’s roots and converting nitrogen from the air into nitrogen compounds at optimal rate and time.
Rhizobial Inoculation Improves the Growth, Yield Components, and Yields of Legumes. In addition, the bacteria have the competency to promote plant growth and stress resistance, recycle nutrients, improve soil fertility, and rectify soil pollution.
The Rhizobia fertilizer is manufactured in a factory in Marondera and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, and Fisheries targets 45,000 sachets this season. From the output, 90% is earmarked for soya bean production.
The inoculum is significantly cost-effective compared to commercial fertilizers that have continued to bear the impacts of global fertilizer supply due to the Eastern Europe conflict. The inoculum, therefore, provides a cheap and viable alternative for famers to mitigate supply shortages.
“A 100-gram sachet of Rhizobium inoculant is enough to cover 100kg of soya bean seed equivalent to a hectare for US$ 5 compared to US$ 250 that would be required for the same hectarage in additional fertilizers, “said Mr. Chikwari.
The move will contribute to maximum production for farmers as the nation strives to achieve food security
According to Mr. Emmanuel Chikwari, the head of CSRI, the increasing demand for the inoculum comes as the backdrop of increasing soya bean and sugar bean production for the 2022/2023 summer cropping season.
There is also a high adoption rate following outreach programs and awareness campaigns that have provided farmers with training on the use of Rhizobium through partnerships between CSRI and Agritex.
Moreover, Mr. Chikwari added that they have added more distribution centers such as Farm and City, Windmill, Seed Co, and agro-dealers to enable accessibility of the inoculum to farmers.
The research institute is optimistic that the good rains that the country is experiencing have contributed to increased uptake of rhizobium inoculants as farmers push to cut down on costs of ammonium nitrate and urea during planting.
Food security in Zimbabwe largely depends on subsistence farming for 61% of the rural population which accounts for accounts for 9.2 million of the 15 million population.
The adoption of Rhizobium inoculum comes a time when the government is encouraging farmers to adopt business practices that will ensure maximum production but fewer inputs utilization costs.