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FarmLime: low-cost lime for small-scale farming

By
Clive J. Mitchell
Clive J. Mitchell
British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham NG12 5GG, UK (e-mail:cjmi@bgs.ac.uk)
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Published:
January 01, 2005

Abstract

In the less-developed parts of southern Africa, where agriculture is crucial in daily survival, agricultural lime is often difficult to obtain. This is due to the scarcity of production sites, high transport costs and inadequate support for farmers from government extension services. In Zambia there are upwards of 700 000 small-scale farmers who struggle to farm on acid soils and as a result have poor crop yields. They cannot afford to use agricultural lime, which would solve the problem, and as a result are trapped in a cycle of poverty. In an attempt to address this problem, the UK research project ‘FarmLime’, based in Zambia, investigated a means of producing affordable agricultural lime using simple, locally available technology. Dolomite suitable for agricultural lime occurs throughout Zambia, including those farming districts with acidic soils. It is estimated that small-scale production using partly manual methods could produce agricultural lime for US$25–30 per tonne. Demonstration crop trials were successful in demonstrating the benefits of using agricultural lime to small-scale farmers. Where the price of maize is high and the cost of lime is low, the economic benefits of its use are high. However, even if there is a demonstrable economic benefit, the use of agricultural lime will be constrained by the lack of cash in the rural economy; one potential solution to this could be bartering of crops for agricultural lime.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Sustainable Minerals Operations in the Developing World

B. R. Marker
B. R. Marker
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, UK
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M. G. Petterson
M. G. Petterson
British Geological Survey, UK
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F. McEvoy
F. McEvoy
British Geological Survey, UK
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M. H. Stephenson
M. H. Stephenson
British Geological Survey, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
250
ISBN electronic:
9781862394988
Publication date:
January 01, 2005

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