African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6849

Full Length Research Paper

Major soil fertility and management gaps in sorghum production in Lesotho

Fisseha Itanna
  • Fisseha Itanna
  • Department of Soil Science and Resource Conservation, National University of Lesotho (NUL), P. O. Roma 180, Lesotho.
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Puleng Letuma
  • Puleng Letuma
  • Department of Crop Science, National University of Lesotho (NUL), P. O. Roma 180, Lesotho.
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Pitso Masupha
  • Pitso Masupha
  • Department of Crop Science, National University of Lesotho (NUL), P. O. Roma 180, Lesotho.
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Monica Lephole
  • Monica Lephole
  • Department of Agricultural Research (DAR), Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition, P. O. Box 829, Maseru 100, Lesotho.
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Barthlomew Chataika
  • Barthlomew Chataika
  • Center for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), Plot 4701, Station Exit Road, Private Bag 00357, Gaborone, Botswana.
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  •  Received: 25 November 2023
  •  Accepted: 09 January 2024
  •  Published: 29 February 2024

Abstract

Sorghum is an important staple crop in Lesotho, following maize and wheat. The objective of this study was to assess soil fertility and management gaps in the country and their impact on sorghum production. In July 2022, an interview involving 320 Basotho farmers was carried out in 8 districts across Lesotho. The survey indicated that sorghum yield across the nation is low (< 1 ton/ha), with the major limiting factors being poor soil fertility, soil management practices, prevalence of weeds, diseases and insects. Farmers consider financial constraints, dry and hard soils, noxious weeds, wetlands, and clay pan as the most serious problems in tillage. Most of the land is cultivated (57.8%), while 42.2% is left fallow. Most farmers perceive their land to be fertile based on yield, and no soil test has been carried out in nearly 90% of the farms. Periodical training is vital to raise their level of awareness. Except for soil erosion control, there appear to be no significant differences among the districts in the parameters considered. Farmers can boost sorghum production through scaling up organic and inorganic fertilizer additions and interventions such as crop rotation, fallowing, cover cropping and conservation agriculture. 

Key words: Basotho, organic fertilizers, fallowing, crop rotation, cover crops, conservation agriculture.