East and Southeast Africa

Boron maximizes crop production

Agriculture is one of East Africa's most important sectors, with about 80% of the population depending on agriculture for their livelihood. With high populations, small land sizes, and lack of access to new agricultural tools and information, the region has long suffered from low agricultural productivity and food insecurity. Despite these challenges, the countries of east and southeast Africa support diverse farming systems, from the humid highlands of Uganda to the coastal areas of Tanzania and Kenya and the dry lands of Sudan and Ethiopia.

Maize, cassava, millet, sorghum, sweet potatoes, beans, and groundnuts are commonly grown in most areas, along with intensive vegetable, coffee, and tea production. Maize is Kenya's principal staple crop, followed by legumes. Tea and coffee are major exports in both Kenya and Rwanda, which also exports dry beans, potatoes, maize, rice, and cassava to neighboring countries. However, soil erosion caused by planting on slopes combined with poor soil fertility challenge Rwandan farmers to increase output.

In contrast, Uganda’s fertile soil and moderate climate have contributed to the country's agricultural success. Most areas receive plenty of rain, leading to healthy yields of food crops and major cash crops such as coffee, cotton, tea, and tobacco.

In a region dominated by smallholder mixed farming, greater agricultural investment and government support is making a difference. In Ethiopia, for example, the government sponsors the use of macro- and micronutrients—a practice that can transform food production and create food security.

Featured Crops

University research found yield increases ranging from 9-37 bushels of corn per acre where boron was added. Corn requires high levels of all nutrients to ensure maximum economic yields.
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Sweet potato
Boron deficiency symptoms usually appear in the latter part of the season.
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Under normal growing conditions, boron can maximize forage sorghum yields.
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Improve Soil Conditions with Boron Supplementation

Growers in East Africa can benefit from diagnosing and treating boron deficiencies. Valuable crops such as coffee, cotton, tobacco, and maize suffer without adequate boron. Tobacco, for instance, can suffer from dieback and malformed, brittle leaves.

Horticultural flower growers, particularly those in the Kenyan rose market, also rely on boron for healthy crops. Ultimately, the application of boron leads to more productivity and higher yields per hectare, an important gain for small landholders.

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U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 650 customers with more than 1,800 delivery locations globally. We supply around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Learn more about Rio Tinto.

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