Getting Plant nutrition Solutions to Scale Requires More than Technology Promotion
The 2SCALE program aims to develop inclusive agri-business arrangements that ensure firms' sustainability, innovation, and competitiveness in local, regional, and international markets. It emphasizes inclusive participation and fair rewards for small producers, workers, and traders, regardless of gender, age, or other factors. While improving business relationships and value chain functioning is important, the primary production process often receives less attention. However, in growing food markets, improving agricultural productivity and produce quality can significantly enhance the income of smallholder producers. The 2SCALE program has successfully promoted plant nutrition solutions to improve productivity, and this report presents insights and lessons learned from their experiences. The program has focused on promoting various plant nutrition technologies to enhance nutrient use efficiency and productivity among smallholder producers. These technologies include Urea Deep Placement (UDP) for paddy rice production, inoculation of soybean fields with specific Rhizobium species, formulation of customized compound fertilizers based on particular crop requirements, and the use of stick planters for seeding and fertilizing in a single operation. Despite the proven effectiveness of these technologies, their adoption has been limited. Therefore, the program identified three main requirements for successful technology promotion: local testing and adaptation of technical solutions, sustainable business networks to support technology availability and use, and effective training and communication methods. Local testing and adaptation of technological solutions are crucial to ensure their relevance and suitability to the local context. For example, the UDP technology was adapted to Kenyan conditions through involvement from farmer cooperatives, the rice research institute, and the national irrigation board. Sustainable business networks play a vital role in producing and distributing soil nutrition inputs. Private enterprises must see a viable business case to invest in producing and distributing these inputs. The involvement of larger companies is often necessary to trigger change and promote adopting plant nutrient solutions. Complex business partnerships at different levels are usually required to support technology implementation. In the case of UDP, local production of briquettes was facilitated by farmer cooperatives, and service provision teams were developed to make the technology more accessible. Effective training and communication strategies are essential for behavior change and the successful adoption of plant nutrition solutions. The 2SCALE program integrated these activities into its agri-business partnerships and focused on making advisory services economically sustainable.
Partnerships, Agribusiness, Sustainable intensification, Technology