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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

Africa soil health

Poor soil fertility is a key constraint to improving farm productivity and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. It is now widely recognized that increased fertilizer use, integrated with other soil fertility management practises is the way forward. The Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) brings together experts in soil health, and we bring communications expertise and experience of working with farmers.

Project Overview

So, what's the problem

Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) is recognized as an effective solution to poor soil fertility. However there is a lack of clear, relevant, action-orientated development communications for use by smallholder farming families and those that serve them. The formal channels of information extension/ farmer’s groups tend to target primarily male heads of household  - when farming in Africa is a family business.  

What is this project doing?

ASHC is piloting an approach that targets different members of the smallholder farming family with nuanced but consistent  messages that address their information needs. So, young people can be targeted through youth media such as comic and social media or curriculum support materials for use in schools. Women can be reached by entertaining radio programs and heads of household by point of sale material in agro-dealers and traditional extension methods. 

In each country a group of partners will be convened by ASHC.

The process starts from a country scoping document setting out needs and opportunities. The next document is an Information Needs Assessment which looks at gaps and perceived short comings in the current stock of development communications and materials offered by the private sector on farm inputs. From this CABI selects an ISFM approach and technology brief sets out all of the stages a farmer needs to follow to apply the improved technology.

ASHC is exploring new ways to share the tools and approaches. The ISFM materials library, hosted on the ASHC website, is being developed to house mateirials for others to adopt and apply to their own contexts. Most are offered under Creative Commons licenses.

Publications will be produced through the life of project, sharing lessons learned about how the challenges of creating and disseminating development communications that change behaviour can be met. 


In Tanzania the group of partners is called the Legume Alliance and it has developed its first campaign “Maharage Bingwa – Champion Beans”. This encourages families to use improved seeds and other inputs to create food security, incomes and add nitrogen to their depleted soil.

Between June and September 2015, a 16-week radio series has been produced and 8 programmes aired; two Shujaaz comics have been published, highlighting the benefits of bean farming; prototype point of sale materials have been developed for use in agrodealers and a manual for extension workers will shortly be ready for piloting in two districts in Tanzania. All of these materials have been developed using participatory approaches.

A database of over 4,000 bean farmers has been developed and they are being systemically interviewed on their use of bean inputs with a view to creating a better planning tool for matching supply and demand of inputs. 

Based on lessons gathered from inception work and pilot activities in Tanzania, information campaigns targeting priority crops will be developed and implemented in additional countries.

See our website and our materials library.  

The team

Project Manager

Staff image of James Watiti

James Watiti  Coordinator - Development, Communication and Extension

Canary Bird
673 Limuru Road
PO Box 633-00621
T +254 (020) 7224450/62

Project team

Staff image of Dannie Romney

Dannie Romney

Global Director, Development Communication and Extension

Staff image of George Oduor

George Oduor

Deputy Regional Director (Research)

Staff image of Abigael Mchana

Abigael Mchana

Communication Officer

Staff image of Silvia Silvestri

Silvia Silvestri

Senior socio-economist

Staff image of Stephanie Gakuo

Stephanie Gakuo

Development Communications Specialist

Staff image of Solomon Agyemang Duah

Solomon Agyemang Duah

Communications Specialist, Ghana

Staff image of Henry Mibei

Henry Mibei

Operations Manager Mobile, Africa

Staff image of Christine Alokit

Christine Alokit

Communication and Extension Scientist

Staff image of Lucy Karanja

Lucy Karanja

Content Manager

Staff image of Martin Macharia

Martin Macharia

Data Manager – OFRA

Staff image of Brenda Wawaka

Brenda Wawaka

Programme Officer

Staff image of Rahab  Njunge

Rahab Njunge

Theme Officer - Development, Communications and Extension

Staff image of Duncan Sones

Duncan Sones

ASHC Advisor

Staff image of Keith Sones

Keith Sones

ASHC Advisor



  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Nigeria
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda


  • Start: 01/06/2015
  • End: 30/06/2019


  • Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
  • Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
  • International Fertilizer Development (IFDC)
  • International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI)
  • Africa 2000 Network (A2N)
  • Africa Rice
  • Africare
  • Agricultural Research Institute - ARI Maruku
  • Christian Rural Aid Network (CRAN)
  • Clinton Hunter Development Initiative
  • Consortium for Improving Agricultural Livelihoods in Central Africa - CIALCA
  • Dutch Agricultural Development & Trading Company BV (DADTCO)
  • Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research - EIAR
  • Farm Input for Promotions Africa - FIPS
  • Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique - IIAM
  • International Center for Tropical Agriculture - CIAT
  • International Crop Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics - ICRISAT
  • International Institute of Tropical Agriculture - IITA
  • International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center - CIMMYT
  • Kenya Agricultural Research Institute - KARI
  • MEA
  • Mediae
  • Michael Okpara University of Agriculture - MOUAU
  • Michigan State University
  • Millennium Villages
  • N2Africa
  • National Agricultural Research Organization - NARO
  • National Smallholder Farmers' Association of Malawi - NASFAM
  • Notore Chemicals
  • Savanna Agricultural Research Institute SARI - Ghana
  • Selian Agricultural Research Institute SARI-Tanzania
  • Shujaaz
  • Soil Research Institute - SRI
  • Sokoine University of Agriculture - SUA
  • University of Science and Technology Kumasi
  • Wageningen University
  • Young African Express
  • Zambia Agricultural Research Institute - ZARI