The Soil Health Consortium of Malawi (SoHCoM) organized an Integrated Soil Fertility Management Symposium on the 10th of January 2014. The meeting was held at Sunbird Lilongwe hotel under the theme: Integrated Soil Fertility Management, Key for a Food Secure Malawi. The gathering was patronized by officials from government, non-governmental organizations, academia, private sector as well as farmer organizations. The symposium was officially opened by the Vice Chancellor of the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) Prof. George Kanyama Phiri, whom in his speech said, “The theme of the symposium is vital if we are to achieve food security in the country especially at a time such as this when there is a lot of environmental degradation.”

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The symposium constituted presentations of research papers and plenary. From Kusamala was Gail Swithernbank, who presented on ‘the role of mycorrhizal fungi in soil restoration, nitrogen fixation, nutrient translocation, carbon sequestration and water dynamics.’ This presentation is emanating from the work that Gail is doing with soil microbiologist Dr. Elaine Ingham, and AM Fungi specialist Dr. Joseph Morton at INVAM, to develop a low-tech, no-cost method of inoculating soils with AM fungi appropriate for subsistence farmers in Africa. She is currently conducting studies at Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology, Kasisi Agriculture Training Centre in Zambia, and with farmers in the Nkhata Bay area of Malawi and the Katete area of Zambia. She has established a soil microscope lab at  both Kusamala and Kasisi.

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