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    Power Dynamics and Scaling Potential of the Proposed Ghana Fertilizer Platform
    (2021) Diene, P.P.; Bindraban, Prem S.; A. Laamari; William Adzawla; Y. Iddrisu; W.K. Atakora
    The fertilizer sector plays a major role in crop production. The organization and structuring of the sector is vital to sustaining food systems and shrinking the level of food insecurity. To tackle challenges in the fertilizer value chain, the Government of Ghana aims to establish a Fertilizer Platform Ghana (FPG). This study was conducted to anticipate potential issues arising from power relations and dominance, which will be critical for the sustainability and effectiveness of the platform at scale. Data from 20 key stakeholders were gathered through interviews. Scaling analysis and stakeholder power analysis were done to generate insights from these data. The scaling analysis was used to determine the scaling potential of the FPG and the fertilizer value chain, while the stakeholder power analysis helped identify stakeholders' decision-making power and its basis. The findings revealed that the platform is scalable, but its efficiency and sustainability could be constrained by insecure funding, data credibility, value chain disorganization, lack of collaboration, and leadership. Scaling the fertilizer value chain through the FPG will highly depend on the platform's fit in the local context, private sector critical stakeholders' adoption rate. knowledge institutions contribution to building a science-based platform, and support from the public sector and its agencies. The pace of development of the fertilizer sector is under command of the public sector, mainly due to its high influence over data and information sources and its total control of the subsidy program, which drives the fertilizer market. The study concluded that the fertilizer value chain could be scaled through the FPG by taking the pathway of a public-private partnership, empowering less powerful actors, and creating a level playing field for all stakeholders within the platform to ensure representativeness and catalyze the development of the fertilizer sector.
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    Fertilizer Sector Improvement (FSI+) in Burma
    (2019-10) IFDC
    The five-year Fertilizer Sector Improvement (FSI+) project initiated in 2014 led the way for USAID interventions in the agricultural sector of Myanmar. Over two-thirds of the country’s population is engaged in agriculture, which is dominated by small-scale farming. As implemented by the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), the project contributed to building a strong and resilient food and agriculture system that can have a transformational effect on people’s lives. It achieved that by improving incomes equitably and by enhancing food security for small-scale farmers in target districts of the Delta and Shan regions. The approach focused on increasing production and income from crops in rice-based farming systems and on building the capacity of agricultural input and other service providers to supply and advise farmers. The guiding mantra was to harness the power of science, technology, innovation, and markets to improve food and agricultural system practices dramatically and sustainably. Such advances were tailored to promote more inclusive income growth for empowered small-scale farmers so they can benefit from the country’s economic progress. The initial FSI plan concentrated on introducing the technology of urea deep placement (UDP) to smallholder rice producers as a more cost-effective way to fertilize their fields and achieve higher yields. The practice of applying urea briquettes near the root level instead of broadcasting the fertilizer had proven successful in Bangladesh and some African countries. IFDC thought UDP could be a breakthrough for the rice farmers of Myanmar as well. It was thought they would rapidly adopt the technology and spread it exponentially. That proved to be a miscalculation because of the larger size of farms and the shortage of labor available to hand-place the briquettes. While not abandoning the UDP concept, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and IFDC wisely adjusted the strategy after two years to address more broadly soil degradation and other obstacles impeding farmer progress. The agricultural system in general had languished under 60 years of military rule and the concurrent lack of direction FSI+ | Project Completion Report iv in the government agencies assigned to help farmers. Seeing the need and opportunity, USAID agreed to extend the project from three to five years and to increase the budget to an eventual $7.05 million total. The first step in the project pivot involved expanding the range of field trials to discover the best seed-fertilizer-soils combinations. The information helped fill the existing research gaps and was continually updated through more trials and seasonal crop cuts. The project organized staffspecialists and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners to show farmers the results of UDP. The training modules and over 300 field demonstrations were then expanded to all aspects of the cropping system and best practices to achieve increased yields and profits. The research-extension interface enabled FSI+ to find answers to questions from farmers through trials in the next season and to tailor training to their interests and needs. This in turn helped capture and establish the enduring impacts of the site-specific integrated soil fertility management strategy. In addition, IFDC entered into a partnership with Syngenta. This enabled the project to capitalize on USAID’s global agreement with Syngenta and obtain cost-sharing for joint training of retailers and field demonstrations for maize farmers in southern Shan State. To meet the expected demand for high-yielding varieties of seed and more balanced fertilization, project staff recruited small and medium retailers of agricultural inputs in the project zones and trained them on both technical aspects of agricultural inputs and the management and marketing tools that would help grow their businesses. The project ensured that about 40% of selected farmers and almost half of recruited retailers were women, because they were enterprising and would be instrumental in transforming rural quality of life. Over the five years of implementation, the FSI+ project: • Trained over 13,000 farmers, more than one-third of whom were given refresher courses. • Reached another 5,000 farmers through field days and organized visits to model farms. • Encouraged trained farmers to share information with their neighbors, of whom an estimated minimum of 17%, or 2,500, adopted improved technologies. • Trained 345 agro-input retailers who in turn educated and encouraged their clients in modern inputs and good practices. At least 25%, or over 50,000 farmer customers, have adopted improved technologies as a result. FSI+ | Project Completion Report v A rigorous monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system employed independent household surveys and used crop cuts to assess progress by the trained farmers, who are regarded as “direct beneficiaries.” Those in the second category above who participated in other project activities are considered “indirect beneficiaries” in the official terminology. Except for the activities and results indicators related to adoption of UDP, the project met or exceeded all the targets for activities and for the economic returns for farmers, measured by gross margins. They are defined as the value of production minus the cost of inputs. According to the survey results from the Project Impact Report submitted in August 2019: • Gross margins increased by 28% for wet season rice and 18% for the dry season crop against the target increases of 15% in each season. • The impact on households was an average annual net income increase of $890 per farm, with 50% of this attributed to FSI+. Beyond the positive economic impacts for farmers and retailers, the project team set the stage at multiple levels for sustained progress and for resilience in the face of likely shocks and stresses. Disaster-prone, Myanmar is one of the most affected countries by climate change. Its farmers also face shocks from policies and trade barriers. FSI+ helped strengthen the capacity of individuals, institutions, and governments. It improved the quality of data and research. In short, the project contributed to the pipeline of innovations, tools, and approaches designed to improve agriculture and food security – and to help reduce susceptibility to food crises. The U.S. Government Global Food Security Strategy (GFSS) states that “scaling requires promoting the diffusion of adoption beyond direct beneficiaries of development interventions. We will do this by working with delivery pathways (public and private) to demonstrate value and make technologies available.” FSI+ accomplished this by: • Convincing a nucleus of farmers that good agricultural practices are profitable. • Developing a cadre of agro-input dealers who form a strong private sector-led value chain that will provide the supplies and services that farmers need because it is good business. • Training and engaging public extension and research staff so they are better informed and motivated to help farmers adopt good practices and adapt to changed conditions. The project introduced extension informed by data through its research to update best practices. FSI+ | Project Completion Report vi • Helping design and implement research investments that anticipate and treat recurrent shocks and stresses as perennial features, not as unanticipated anomalies. • Organizing an influential national conference and producing studies and a strategy for the government to advance soil fertility and fertilizer management. Ministry officials respect and appreciate the project’s help, including on UDP, and they are using the strategy to guide the agricultural research masterplan. As a result, soil fertility is now a top priority. The USAID Mission asked the project to respond to the impending threat of a fall armyworm (FAW) infestation of the maize crop in 2019. The FSI+ team mobilized its network of retailers, relationships with the Department of Agriculture (DOA), companies producing and supplying inputs, and the confidence of farmers built over the years. As a result, the project was able to respond swiftly and cost-effectively to the threat. The coordinated plan of action and prepared platform supports the GFSS IR 5: Improve proactive risk reduction, mitigation, and management. The initial project proposal focusing on UDP was ahead of its time. Everyone involved learned a valuable lesson about trying to replicate a successful approach without fully understanding local conditions and constraints. Fortunately, USAID enabled the project to change course. Being flexible and adaptable to new opportunities is another important lesson and one that will be applicable to future projects when adaptation to shocks and stresses will become the norm. Of course, critical factors in successful project implementation hinge on the caliber and dedication of the leadership and staff – and their ability to discover, develop, and deploy what will make a difference in farmer livelihoods. Despite the impediments and disappointments, IFDC and the project did not abandon the concept of UDP as an eventual breakthrough for Myanmar rice and maize farmers, some of whom are continuing to apply it. Recognizing the need for mechanization, especially for deep placement of fertilizer whether in briquette or prilled form, FSI+ entered informal partnerships with John Deere and an Indian firm. The project engineer worked with them and local machine shops to design prototype seed and fertilizer applicators that could be produced commercially at affordable prices. There is expectation that the working models today will be on the market within a few years and thus open the way for an eventual UDP take-off. Based on the FSI+ and Dry Zone project experience, IFDC recommends that USAID and other donors continue to support small-scale farmers in the production of rice, maize, and alternative FSI+ | Project Completion Report vii crops. Many improvements are required – from land preparation to good seed and balanced fertilization to post-harvest drying and processing. Myanmar farmers should be able to achieve yields and quality of rice that match their counterparts in Southeast Asia. In conclusion, the FSI+ project pioneered and helped embed new and improved technologies and a private sector-led delivery mechanism. They hold promise for the rural poor of Myanmar to achieve sustainable income growth and food security.
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    Poverty and food and nutritional security among farm households in Ghana
    (2021-05) William Adzawla; Isaac N. Kissiedu; E. Martey; P.M. Etwire; W.K. Atakora; A. Gouzaye; Bindraban, Prem S.
    This publication focuses on the intersection of poverty, food, and nutritional security among farm households in Ghana, particularly in the Guinea, Sudan, and Transitional zones. Despite Ghana's progress in reducing poverty and food insecurity, significant disparities persist across regions. The study utilizes data from the FERARI program, which assessed baseline conditions through metrics such as the Poverty Probability Index (PPI), food consumption expenditure, Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS), and Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) among 1,450 farm households across eight regions. The research reveals the critical role of farmers in the food and nutrition security of the nation, with increased agricultural productivity being a primary means to alleviate poverty and food insecurity. Key findings include the moderate to high food security and poverty prevalence among surveyed households. Household Dietary Diversity Scores (HDDS) reflect the diversity of diets, varying significantly by region and district. Families generally adopt coping strategies such as consuming less expensive and lower-quality foods to mitigate food insecurity. Food consumption expenditure data show that households spend significantly on food, with notable regional variations. The Poverty Probability Index (PPI) indicates a substantial likelihood of poverty among farm households, with varying rates across regions and districts. In conclusion, the study underscores the persistent challenges of food security and poverty in the surveyed areas, particularly in the North East Region and East Mamprusi District. It emphasizes the need for targeted interventions to enhance the well-being of Ghanaian farm households, with the FERARI program striving to support national efforts in this regard.
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    Fertilizer use and yields of maize, rice, and soybean farmers in Ghana
    (2021-07) William Adzawla; Isaac N. Kissiedu; E. Martey; P.M. Etwire; W.K. Atakora; A. Gouzaye; Bindraban, Prem S.
    The material provides insights into the FERARI program, focusing on fertilizer research and responsible implementation in Ghana's Guinea, Sudan, and Transitional agroecological zones. It addresses the critical issue of low fertilizer use in Ghana, averaging 20 kilograms per hectare, resulting in suboptimal crop yields, especially for maize, rice, and soybean. FERARI program aims to enhance the understanding of current fertilizer use and its impact on crop yields among farmers. A baseline study in 2020, involving 1,450 farmers, revealed that 80.5% of farmers used fertilizer during the 2019 cropping season. While many adhered to recommended nutrient management practices, less than half applied fertilizer at the recommended rate, primarily due to inadequate capital. The publication further discusses the types and quantities of fertilizers used for maize, rice, and soybean crops and the challenges hindering fertilizer access and use, including limited credit, inadequate extension services, and concerns about fertilizer quality. Motivational factors for fertilizer use are explored, with a focus on improving crop yields and health. Crop yield data reveal that farmers' yields remain far below their potential, especially without fertilizer use. Different fertilizer formulations showed varying effects on crop yields, with NPK with S proving to be more effective than NPK with Zn. The study concludes that promoting good agronomic practices and developing more appropriate fertilizer products are essential for sustainable fertilizer use in Ghana. Additionally, policy recommendations should address these findings to improve crop production and food security in the region.
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    Cost components in the fertilizer value chain and implications for accessibility by farmers in Ghana
    (2020-10) N. Odionye; S. Dittoh; A. Laamari; William Adzawla; I. Koffi; E. Afimia; W.K. Atakora; M. Jemo; Bindraban, Prem S.
    In this policy brief, we delve into the intricacies of the fertilizer value chain in Ghana, particularly its cost components, and their implications for farmers' accessibility. The analysis focuses on the transformative impact of the Planting for Food and Jobs Program (PFJ) and the Fertilizer Subsidy Program (FSP), both initiatives by Ghana's Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA). These programs have substantially increased fertilizer consumption by offering subsidies on fertilizer prices. However, our study reveals a critical issue – non-competitive margins within the value chain that may obstruct accessibility, especially for farmers in remote areas. The research demonstrates how PFJ's fertilizer quota system has reshaped the landscape by boosting the number of fertilizer importers and turning certain distributors in Tamale into importers, thereby establishing Tamale as a major fertilizer distribution hub. Nevertheless, the FSP's approach appears to create disparities in profit margins, with importers benefiting while distributors and retailers grapple with negative margins, potentially leading to financial challenges. Additionally, the study uncovers weak fertilizer price transmission across various regions, indicating market inefficiencies that hinder farmers' access to affordable fertilizers. To tackle these economic challenges, we propose several solutions. Firstly, we recommend an inclusive subsidy negotiation process involving multiple stakeholders to ensure equitable cost distribution throughout the last mile of fertilizer delivery. Secondly, a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the FSP could identify alternative investments with higher returns and broader social impacts, helping policymakers make informed decisions. Thirdly, implementing an in-country fertilizer subsidy credit scheme, aligned with the Abuja Declaration, could grant value chain actors access to low-interest loans, stimulating economies of scale and encouraging private sector participation. Finally, there's a need to explore the feasibility of retailers and distributors providing microcredit in the form of inputs to farmers, potentially alleviating the farm input challenge and enhancing commodity market access. By addressing these challenges and adopting these recommendations, Ghana can optimize its fertilizer distribution system, enhance farmer accessibility, and improve the overall effectiveness of its agricultural subsidy programs.