East Africa facing shortage of pulses
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30 كانون1/ديسمبر 2016 Author :   Karitu Njagi

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - East Africa is facing a shortage of legumes due to what scientists say is because of poor soil quality and unfavourable climatic conditions.

The shortage, according to experts  at the Nairobi-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), is not only likely to continue, but is set to worsen as crops compete with pests for nutrients like carbon and phosphorous, according to scientists.

Dr. Martha Musyoka, a scientist at ICIPE, points out that legumes like beans rely heavily on phosphorous for nodulation and production. When the pH is low then there is a problem with phosphorous fixation, she says.

“It is clear that areas that have been growing beans a few years ago now cannot,” argues Dr. Musyoka. “Even for those who still grow them, the beans will not perform as well as in the past.”

A surge of new pests is also linked to the poor performance of legumes in the east African region.

A study conducted at two sites in Kenya established that pests are invading crops due to low carbon in the soil.

For instance, soil samples tested in one of the sites, Thika, indicated low carbon in the soil while those at the Chuka site indicated the soils are rich in carbon.

AtThika, pests like termites attacked crops in the field while those in Chuka did not.

“In Chuka, the pests could not go for the crop because there is enough carbon and humidity in the soil,” explains Dr. KomiFiaboe, a senior scientist at ICIPE. “In Thika, the soil dries faster, carbon level in the soil is low, hence the damage to the crop.”

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