A Conceptual Framework for Delivering Improved Fertilizers to Smallholder Farmers in Africa

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Most smallholder African farmers have access to only NP and NPK fertilizers. A host of secondary and micronutrient deficiencies have been identified throughout the continent, which when addressed, results in marked yield improvement. A challenge is to get balanced fertilizers (those that supplement available fertilizers with secondary and micronutrients) to these smallholders, who often can neither afford nor access quality soil analyses. We lay out a conceptual framework, which is being implemented to varying degrees in various African countries, to deliver improved fertilizers to smallholders. The SMART framework stands for Soil testing. Mapping. Recommendations development, and Technology transfer. Soil testing is done on a broad scale to identify major likely deficiencies, using complete analyses by a qualified laboratory. The major deficiencies are mapped, and crop-specific recommendations are developed through on-farm "best bet" and omission trials, considering predominant deficiencies and crop-specific nutrient demands. Once superior fertilizers have been validated, these recommendations are transferred to farmers by commercial fertilizer interests. Fertilizer regulations in many African countries need to be adjusted to accommodate new fertilizers, as regulations were often designed primarily for commodity NPK fertilizers.
Fertilizers, Smallholder farmers
Wendt, J., and L.W. Mbuthia. 2018 A Conceptual Framework for Delivering Improved Fertilizers to Smallholder Farmers in Africa,” IN Myanmar Soil Fertility and Fertilizer Management Conference Proceedings, pp. 169-175, IFDC and DAR, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar