Can indigenous microbes release phosphorus to crops?

An innovative new project aims to select and use indigenous, phosphorus-solubilising fungi and bacteria to increase the yield of crops by reducing phosphorus deficiency in the tropical soils of Cameroon. Isolation and testing of the microbes in the laboratory at SCRI will be followed by trials in Cameroonian fields.

The background - phosphorus in short supply

Photograph of croplands in the dry season (Geoff Squire)Agriculture is the dominant sector in most sub-Saharan countries of Africa. It provides employment for most of the rural population and makes an important contribution to GDP, GNP and foreign exchange. Agricultural productivity is low and the people depending on agriculture are generally poor. Many of the soils are mostly low in fertility (for example, photograph right), particularly in phosphorus (P) and nitrogen, and need to be fertilised for adequate yield.

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