Story of impact

Read more about our work and the impact it is having around the world

You are here: Home / Stories of impact / Africa Soil Health Consortium reaches over one million smallholder farmer

Africa Soil Health Consortium reaches over one million smallholder farmers


The Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) has reached more than 1.3 million farmers in Africa, helping them to grow bigger and better crops by sharing information about Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) – an important farming technique to make soil healthier and more fertile. At least 20% of the farmers reached through ASHC went on to adopt a range of new soil health practices.

The story

Poor soil fertility is one of the biggest hurdles preventing small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa from improving their farm’s productivity and, therefore, from increasing their incomes. Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) is an important farming technique that helps farmers make soil healthier and, thereby, grow bigger and better crops.

However, a lack of access to reliable and timely information about ISFM means smallholders cannot easily learn about and put into practice these tried and tested practices, even for the most commonly grown crops such as common beans and maize.

To combat the lack of access to ISFM knowledge, the CABI-led Africa Soil Heath Consortium (ASHC), supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was created in 2013. The consortium worked with partners in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda to develop and launch communications campaigns designed to help farmers understand and adopt ISFM practices in the production of bananas, beans, cassava, maize and soybeans.

Aside from the usual radio and text messages, ASHC and its partners also used novel ways to reach farmers such as comics books, drama productions and music videos with down-to-earth messages about soil health. This strategy proved especially useful for reaching more members of farming families, especially younger people, and encouraging families to share information about soil fertility and good agronomic practices.

ASHC aimed to reach 450,000 farmers but, by 2019, the consortium had far exceeded its goal reaching more than 1.3 million farmers. These smallholders are now more aware of ISFM practices for key crops such as maize, rice and soybean, and the evidence from outcome studies showed that at least 20% of them went on to adopt a range of new soil health practices. 

ASHC aimed to reach 450,000 farmers but, by 2019, the consortium had far exceeded its goal reaching more than 1.3 million farmers. These smallholders are now more aware of ISFM practices for key crops such as maize, rice and soybean, and the evidence from outcome studies showed that at least 20% of them went on to adopt a range of new soil health practices.

Over the course of seven years, CABI helped to achieve this by cultivating partnerships with over 70 different agencies to plan and implement 18 scale-up campaigns. Between them, the partners helped to create over 600 ISFM materials that are now available on the ASHC website. ASHC information materials and lessons have been shared by many third-party agencies beyond the project’s original scope of four countries.

To deliver objectives, ASHC worked as a family of projects including initiatives such as Gender and the Legume Alliance (GALA), Scaling Up Improved Legume Technologies (SILT) and Upscaling Technologies in Agriculture through Knowledge Extension (UPTAKE) funded by DFID, IDRC and IFAD.

To access the free ASHC materials, visit

Sustainable Development Goals

No Poverty

Helping small-scale farmers improve their livelihoods by providing knowledge about plant health and access to markets.

Zero Hunger

Developing a sustainable food system that helps smallholders meet the world's growing need for food.