Potential role of cereal-legume intercropping systems in integrated soil fertility management in smallholder farming systems of sub-Saharan Africa
Matusso, J. M. M.
Mugwe, J. N.
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The sub-Saharan Africa’s population is growing exponentially and it has to fulfill its food and nutrition requirement. An attractive strategy for increasing productivity and labour utilization per unit area of available land is to intensify land use. Intercropping is advanced as one of the integrated soil fertility management practices consisting of cultivating two or more crops in the same space at the same time, which have been practiced in past decades and achieved the goals of agriculture. Also, intercropping systems are beneficial to the smallholder farmers in the low-input and/or high-risk environment of the tropics, where intercropping of cereals and legumes is widespread among smallholder farmers due to the ability of the legume to contribute to addressing the problem of declining levels of soil fertility. The principal reasons for smallholder farmers to intercrop are flexibility, profit maximization, risk minimization, soil conservation and improvement of soil fertility, weed, pests and diseases control and balanced nutrition. This is a review paper that explores the role of cereal legume intercropping systems in integrated soil fertility management in smallholder farms of Sub-Saharan Africa. The intercropping systems are useful in terms of increasing productivity and profitability, water and radiation use efficiency, control of weeds, pests and diseases. The critical role of biological nitrogen fixation and the amounts of N transferred to associated non-leguminous crops determines the extent of benefits. In intercropping, land equivalent ratio (LER), benefit cost ratio (BCR) and monetary advantage index (MAI) are used to assess the productivity and its economic benefits. In this study, the work carried out by various researchers about different intercropping system is discussed, and it would be beneficial to the researchers who are involved in this field.