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Africa soil health

Poor soil fertility is a key constraint to improving farm productivity and farmer livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) is recognised as an effective solution to poor crop yields. However, lack of access to information means that smallholder farmers do not adopt better techniques. To combat this, we are working with partners to add value to development communications campaigns that are designed to facilitate adoption and capture learning.

Project Overview

So, what’s the problem

Poor soil fertility is a key constraint to improving farm productivity and farmer livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) is a set of management practices which includes the use of fertiliser, organic inputs and improved germ-plasm and is adapted to local conditions and uses sound agronomic principles, and is recognised as an effective solution. New knowledge on ISFM has the potential to change the lives of millions of smallholder farming families in sub-Saharan Africa.

The extent to which small-scale farming families are willing and able to implement these practices though is limited, even if they will improve productivity and increase their profits.

Often, researchers lack the skills to communicate their findings, and the R&D landscape is fragmented leading to lack of validated, actionable and aggregated information. Farmers often lack access to this information, have inadequate incentives to adopt these new techniques and lack both the capacity to implement and the necessary inputs.

What is this project doing?

This second phase of Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) focuses on generating appropriate, farmer-friendly, development communication approaches to give farming families access to the information they need. We want to add value to the campaigns and capture learning.

ASHC will support development and test materials which will integrate information from different partners, and ensure content is user friendly and well-targeted (taking account of gender differences and local contexts).

To do this, we will work with partners that use different scale-up approaches. One of the key areas of interest for us though, will be how agro-dealers can support information sharing and how youth can be a conduit for information to farming families.

With partners, our project team will collect qualitative and quantitative data to learn lessons on communications and assess adoption rates achieved. The project will continue to develop and expand the web-based resource library of ISFM materials and improve accessibility and usability of resources.

We want to use principles akin to supply chain management, as they provide solutions to overlooked problems, concepts and methods and balance the demand and supply of information for identified audiences. They also act as a framework to produce new solutions that deliver the right information to the right recipients in the right way and at the right time.

The team use the analysis gained to conceptualise how information is generated, collated, integrated, adapted, shared and ultimately used. This approach identifies the range of intermediaries that may share information directly with smallholder farming families. The ASHC team and partners will then gather feedback on the effectiveness of the links along the information supply chain and seek to balance supply and demand of information along it and move towards the production of high quality, action-orientated and farmer-friendly information.

To make actionable content more accessible, we have developed a series of tools and processes that can be used to address bottlenecks and constraints in the information supply chain to benefit smallholder farming families.


Results

So far, over 400 different extension support materials have been developed with partners and published on the ASHC website.

1,126,187 farmers have been reached with GAP and ISFM information through ASHC integrated campaigns in four countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda), and at least 220,000 farmers have applied at least one improved technology (Improved seed, Fertiliser, Inoculant).

Thirty partnerships have been developed in target countries to support material development and campaign implementation, whilst eight campaigns have been implemented in four countries using radio, print, SMS, and demo. Papers and manuscripts, three in total, on lessons learnt from campaign implementation have also been developed.



Project Manager

James Watiti

Coordinator - Development, Communication and Extension Canary Bird, 673 Limuru Road, Nairobi, Kenya

Partners

Beula Seed

Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC)

Esoko

Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa

Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KARLO)

Access Agriculture

Ministry of Agriculture, Nigeria

Countrywise, Ghana

Well Told Story

Ministry of Agriculture, Ghana

Ministry of Agriculture, Uganda

Ministry of Agriculture, Tanzania

Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya

Young African Express

Zambia Agricultural Research Institute - ZARI

Wageningen University

University of Science and Technology Kumasi

Sokoine University of Agriculture - SUA

Soil Research Institute - SRI

Shujaaz

Selian Agricultural Research Institute SARI-Tanzania

Savanna Agricultural Research Institute SARI - Ghana

Notore Chemicals

National Smallholder Farmers' Association of Malawi - NASFAM

National Agricultural Research Organization - NARO

N2Africa

Michigan State University

Millennium Villages

Michael Okpara University of Agriculture - MOUAU

Mediae

MEA

Kenya Agricultural Research Institute - KARI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center - CIMMYT

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture - IITA

International Crop Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics - ICRISAT

Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique - IIAM

International Center for Tropical Agriculture - CIAT

Farm Input for Promotions Africa - FIPS

Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research - EIAR

Dutch Agricultural Development & Trading Company BV (DADTCO)

Consortium for Improving Agricultural Livelihoods in Central Africa - CIALCA

Clinton Hunter Development Initiative

Christian Rural Aid Network (CRAN)

Agricultural Research Institute - ARI Maruku

Africare

Africa Rice

Africa 2000 Network (A2N)

International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI)

International Fertilizer Development (IFDC)

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa

Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)