Strengthening the Capacity for Dissemination of Integrated Soil Fertility Management Technologies in East and Southern Africa


27 Mar 2014

2013 Annual Interpretive Summary

Yields of food crops in sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) have stagnated at approximately 1 t/ha over the last five decades, mainly as a result of infertile soils and low nutrient use. Efforts to solve this problem have focused on the development of various integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) technologies adapted to smallholder farming systems. Research trials have demonstrated opportunities for doubling or tripling yields of both cereals and legumes when appropriate ISFM technologies suited to site-specific conditions are used. Despite the potential of ISFM technologies to improve crop productivity, their adoption by farmers has been very limited. The underlying challenges include poor integration of existing knowledge and lack of effective knowledge products for farmers and extension agents.

A soil health consortia of eight countries in Eastern and Southern Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Malawi, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Zambia) has been recently established with a focus on (i) harmonization of ISFM information at the country and regional level, (ii) development of a regional database for consistent agronomic information, and (iii) communication products developed to support farmers and policy makers to make informed decisions on investment in ISFM technologies. The consortia provides a platform for knowledge integration and exchange between institutions and individuals working on different agricultural program related to ISFM. Over 100 institutions and 1,000 individuals are members of the consortia. In the first year of the project, a series of ISFM communication materials have been developed covering the right use of fertilizer based on the 4R Nutrient Stewardship, improved seed varieties and organic resources. A comprehensive database for the collation and synthesis of ISFM data at the country and regional levels has also been developed. Collection of legacy experimental data in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda has been initiated using over 5,000 publications covering wide-ranging ISFM technologies. The data will be analyzed and summarized to gain insights into how ISFM technologies can be adapted to wide-ranging soil and climatic conditions in SSA.