Feed the Future Soil Fertility Technology Adoption, Policy Reform and Knowledge Management (RFS-SFT) Project (Semi-Annual Report October 2020- March 2021)

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International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) enables smallholder farmers in developing countries to increase agricultural productivity, generate economic growth, and practice environmental stewardship by enhancing their ability to manage mineral and organic fertilizers responsibly and participate profitably in input and output markets. Since 2015, USAID and IFDC entered into a cooperative agreement to support the strategic objectives of the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security (RFS), particularly in relation to Feed the Future (FTF), through a global project on “Soil Fertility Technology (SFT) Adoption, The Policy Reform, and Knowledge Management.” The RFS-SFT project focuses on bridging the gap between scientific research and technology dissemination to smallholder farmers in FTF countries by developing more nutrient-efficient, profitable soil fertility technologies, supported by influencing markets and policies, and local capacity strengthening capacities, leading to improved livelihoods. Under the agreement, IFDC has conducted a range of activities and interventions, prioritized from each annual work plan, for the three agreed-upon workstreams. Workstream 1-Developing and Validating Technologies, Approaches, and Practices areas Focus areas Improving Nitrogen Use Efficiency Activated Phosphate Rock Balanced Crop Nutrition Sustainable Soil Intensification Practices Workstream 2-Supporting Policy Reform Processes, Advocacy, and Market Development Focus areas Documenting Policy Reforms & Market Development Impact Studies, Assessments Agro- Economic Studies Workstream 3-SOILS Consortium (Sustainable Opportunities for Improving Livelihoods with Soils) Focus area Identify Holistic Solutions, Developing Roadmaps toward Enhancing Soil Fertility MELS, Knowledge & Data Management, Decision-Making Tools for Cropping System Model for Soil Sustainability Processes University Partnerships, Capacity Building, Workshops is crosscutting across all workstreams Basic principles of engagement under RFS-SFT: The research activities and technologies developed and disseminated through the SFT project are inclusive and effectively engage women, youth, and other minority people. Other key features include (i) strong partnership and engagement with the private sector – from soil fertility research aspects, especially during the advanced stages of research, i.e., piloting and preparation for scaling, to creating enabling environments for better policy and regulatory uptake among stakeholders; and (ii) engagement of national and local partners through capacity development and implementation of activities for better and long-lasting results. Focus Countries for FY21: Activities are implemented in the following countries to generate technologies, practices, and policies with broader geographic coverage, suitability, and scalability. As part of engagement with the country-level missions, concurrences have been obtained for the following set of countries except Senegal. Asia: Bangladesh, Nepal East and Southern Africa: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Mozambique West Africa: Ghana, Senegal, Niger, Nigeria Activity Highlights during the October 2020-March 2021 Reporting Period -Number of publications during the reporting period 6 published, 4 under review, and 5 policy briefs 1 webinar on Kenya Soil Mapping was conducted. -EG.3.2-7 Number of technologies, practices, and approaches under various phases of research, development, and uptake as a result of USG assistance [IM-level] Production systems research: Soil Fertility Technologies Phase 1: 9 research activities. Phase 2: 17 research activities Phase 3: 4 research activities The ongoing research on improving N use efficiency are at various research phases using urea as coated or granulated with secondary and micronutrients, nano- and bulk material, inhibitors, and control-release polymers or deep placement application. Field trials completed in Nepal with rice, applying 80% of recommended N rate with polymer-coated urea gave similar or higher yields than urea at full application rate. Maize trials in Bangladesh also highlighted the combined effect of increased N use efficiency and improved sulfur nutrition, where significantly higher yield and protein content was obtained with elemental S enriched urea than conventional N and S fertilizers. Field trials in Burkina Faso under rainfed condition gave up to 1 mt/ha higher rice yield with urea deep placement than conventional N application. Under irrigated conditions with improved water management, conventional split application of urea was as effective as deep placement. Ongoing greenhouse and field activities have confirmed that activated phosphate rock (PR) – combining PR with water-soluble P (WSP) fertilizers – improves bioavailability of P by 2-3 times vs. PR and is as effective as WSP. In addition, activated PR particularly when combined with residual response has significantly higher P recovery efficiency than conventional WSP fertilizers. The Phosphate Rock Decision Support System (PRDSS) is a web-based tool used to predict the relative agronomic effectiveness of phosphate rock compared to water-soluble phosphate fertilizers jointly created by FAO/IAEA and IFDC. This tool has been redesigned to providing a better user experience and new features. Balanced fertilization field trials with various Zn products were completed in Ghana (maize), Nepal (rice), and Rwanda (wheat, maize). Field trials to quantify conservation agricultural practices, crop diversification, and integrated soil fertility management on crop yield, nutrient use efficiency, and soil health were conducted in Bangladesh and Cambodia. Besides substitution values of recycled wastes and organic amendments were evaluated under greenhouse conditions. Mapping of Land Capability Classification (LCC) for Dosso Region using map products and field data collected by IFDC in Niger has been completed. Compared field data based to LCC assessments through global soil maps, derived a regional spatial evaluation of land capability for future use in land planning activities in Niger has been recommended. A unified fertilizer trial protocol for targeting fertilizer source and rate in Ethiopia was developed by IFDC, ICRISAT, and EIAR and 362 field trials were implemented for teff (183), wheat (119), and sorghum (60) across Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR, and Tigray regions. Except for Tigray, crops were harvested from 290 sites. Initial results indicate: Yields of wheat and teff were significantly increased over 300% vs. control, up to 8% relative to the NP treatment only, and over 25% compared to treatment with half of all the nutrients (50% of all nutrients + K) due to application of 150% all K treatment. Sorghum yield increments of about 37% and 21% were achieved at foot slope position compared to hill and mid-slope positions, respectively. COVID-19 Fertilizer Watch Updates in SSA: RFS-SFT supported a collaborative initiative toward informing fertilizer value chain stakeholders through weekly fertilizer bulletin across SSA on the impact of COVID-19 on fertilizer markets and the agro-input supply from April to December 2020. Since January 2021, this has been published as a monthly bulletin through IFDC’s AfricaFertilizer.Org Influencing Fertilizer Policy Reforms in Kenya: With KeFERT and OCP, collaboratively conducted a webinar on Kenya soil mapping aspects and disseminated the new Kenya soil map site. The dissemination activity on new fertilizer regulations, followed by feedback surveys among fertilizer stakeholders in Niger, found face-to-face meetings and person-to-person exchanges were the most effective methods in disseminating the policy regulations. Of the five regulations passed, fertilizer actors valued more on regulations related to licensing, sales, and sanctions. Economic studies to understand the micronutrient fertilizers (zinc/boron/manganese) uptake in rice farming in Bangladesh shows private sector is the sole source of supply of micronutrient fertilizers, technologies, and knowledge. Preliminary survey results from input retailers (45) and agricultural extension officers (15) in rice growing south-western Bangladesh indicate the need for close monitoring of micronutrient fertilizers quality available in the market, with multiplicity of brands being imported and supplied by private firms for consumption.
Knowledge management, Smallholder farmers