A Better Year Through Nitrofix


Posted November 10, 2015

A Better Year Through Nitrofix
Last year was a difficult one for farmers in Malawi, with heavy rains and subsequent floods impeding agricultural production. As such, it is vital that the 2016 growing season realize substantial yields to assist farmers in ‘getting back on their feet’. However, the cultivation game is never an easy one, and so growers will be looking to exploit every advantage they can. One such ‘home grown’ advantage will be coming from Malawi itself, and could see soy farmers increase their product from anywhere to 30% to 40%.

A Better Year Through Nitrofix
 
Lilongwe, Malawia,
November 2, 2015

   

Right: A certified bag of Nitrofix, ready for use with a soybean crop; left: A factory worker at AISL prepares sachets of Nitrofix inoculant ready for distribution and enhanced soybean growing.

Last year was a difficult one for farmers in Malawi, with heavy rains and subsequent floods impeding agricultural production. As such, it is vital that the 2016 growing season realize substantial yields to assist farmers in ‘getting back on their feet’. However, the cultivation game is never an easy one, and so growers will be looking to exploit every advantage they can. One such ‘home grown’ advantage will be coming from Malawi itself, and could see soy farmers increase their product from anywhere to 30% to 40%.
 
This competitive advantage for the soy farmer comes directly from Lilongwe’s own Agriculture Input Supplies Limited (AISL), manufacturer of Nitrofix – a 50 gram package of soy growing super power. And what can Nitrofix do for a small-scale soy farmer you might ask?
 
Well, to grow an average hectare of soy you need between 60 to 85 kilos of soy seed. Add to this approximately 7 sachets of Nitrofix as directed on the packaging, and a farmer will see their yields jump from somewhere around 800 kilos average yield, to upwards of 1,100 kilos – an approximate increase of more than 30% compared against non-Nitrofix yields. And at an economical cost of MWK 950 per sachet, it isn’t hard to understand why this investment could make a big difference to smallholders’ bottom lines.
 
Moreover, with approximately 28,000,000 kilos of soy expected to be grown in Malawi over the 2016 period (based on last year’s estimates), national utilization of Nitrofix could provide an additional 8,000,000 kilos of soy produce to be added to Malawi’s GDP – as much as MWK 1,800,000,000. Such an addition would not be inconsequential given the country’s current export circumstances.
 
Strangely, the secret of Nitrofix is really not much of a secret at all. The truth is that Nitrofix is an agricultural ‘inoculant’, a compound which has proven exceptionally useful for the enhancement of soybean growth. In essence, inoculant makes it easier for soybean seed to draw more nitrogen from the surrounding growing environment, and so produce a noteworthy increase in harvest yields.
 
And the above are certainly not agricultural ‘pipe dreams’ or conjecture. Last year users of inoculant noted dramatic increases in yields as observed by Agricultural Extension Worker, Zakeyo Banada, of Nkhamenya, Kasungu District, Central Region. Zakeyo discovered soy seed inoculant whilst working with a previous organization, and has marveled at the compound’s capacity to affect soy crops ever since. ‘Farmers who use inoculant in my district have regularly experienced large increases in yields’, states Mr. Banda. ‘I have used it personally for my small crop, and will do so again this year’ he adds, but notes, ‘The only problem with planning to use inoculant with your soy crop is finding inoculant to use…’
 
However, Frederic Kawalewale, Managing Director (MD) of AISL has been laboring diligently on this problem of inoculant access. While his Lilongwe factory is working hard to produce 250,000 sachets of Nitrofix  to sell this year, the former accountant has also had to build his brand, as well as a distribution chain – not always an easy task in Malawi. Nonetheless, Mr. Kawalewale has marketed and negotiated his way to developing a network of vendors through agriculture input distributors , agro dealers such Agriculture  Trading Company (ATC), to cover, at a minimum, the following areas: Zomba, Limbe, Mzuzu, Mzimba, Old Town Lilongwe, Kanengo, Mponela, Mchinji, Kasungu Boma, Mitunda and Chikhoma. While dealing with challenges such as fluctuating exchange rates and issues surrounding the overuse of recycled seed, AISL’s MD has great passion for the organization’s work, ‘If you are afraid to make change [in the agricultural sector], we will never see change. However, if we have a clear agenda, this inoculant will indeed create a very big change for soy farmers.’
 
So, AISL’s Nitrofix, inoculant for soybean, should be available to soy farmers in the coming planting season. Should an abundance of smallholder farmers opt to purchase the branded, reliable inoculant, and adhere to the clear instructions found on packaging , it could significantly increase their incomes. This, in turn, would radically change Malawi’s soy sector exports, and affect the country’s economy for the better. Not a bad thing for soy farmers who had a tough 2015, and certainly not a bad thing for a country looking to enjoy a better 2016.

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