16 October 2014 – The Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) is today launching its new website, giving people who work with and support smallholder farmers a one-stop library of materials on Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM). Coinciding with World Food Day (16 October), the launch of the new website marks an important milestone in ASHC’s mission to improve the livelihoods of farmers in Africa.

Making practical soil health information accessible to the people who support farmers is central to helping the production of more and better crops and improving farmers’ health, nutrition and food security. ASHC takes a wealth of existing information on smart framing practices, like ISFM, and shares it with those who need it most. The many resources that ASHC produces (like the website, but also books, cartoons and guides) help bridge the gap between those with science-based agricultural information and the farmers who can benefit from it.

The new website includes many resources, including around 140 exemplar soil health materials, applying them to five cropping systems: banana-coffee, cassava, maize with legumes, millet and sorghum with legumes, and rice.

Managed by CABI and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ASHC is a consortium of over 40 partners. Genuine partnership requires a different mindset and toolbox to be successful, and the new website supports this. The easy-to-use web search delivers recommendations of similar materials using an ‘if you like that, you will also like this’ function. Web users will also be encouraged to comment on the materials that work for them and those that don’t.

Communicating complex agricultural information can be a challenge. The ASHC vision for the future is that anyone using the website can access ‘how-to’ guides on, for example, making an educational soil health poster, using farmer-friendly language in exemplar materials and checking the ISFM content in cropping guides. ASHC hopes the website will set the bar for genuinely open access and open source materials and capacity building approaches.

Dr George Oduor, ASHC Project Manager, said, “We’re delighted to launch the new ASHC website. By building capacity around soil health, we’re helping to increase food production in Africa. In so doing, we’re addressing the dual challenge of hunger and poverty of rural people.”

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