African farmers increase yield with fertiliser app

19-03-2019 | |
Photo: ANP
Photo: ANP

The so-called Fertiliser Optimiser phone app allows farmers in Africa to dramatically increase yields.

Pilot work on the CABI Fertiliser Optimiser app in Uganda has shown that some farmers realised up to a 7-fold increase in yields. Using funding from the BBSRC Global Challenges Research Fund, the app has now been upgraded to make it easier to use.

Integrated soil fertility management

The new app includes the integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) practices feature, and a calibration tool which helps farmers to apply the right quantity of fertilizer to their crops.

The Fertiliser Optimiser app is designed to help resource constrained farmers to maximise the return on investment on fertiliser, based on what they can realistically afford, says CABI, a worldwide organisation that strives to improve people’s lives by solving problems in agriculture.

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Most profitable way to apply fertiliser

James Watiti, Coordinator – Development, Communication and Extension at CABI, explained: “The concept behind the CABI Fertiliser Optimiser app is easily transferable to the intermediaries and then to farmers through training. Farmers think about the crops they wish to grow and what they can afford to spend on fertiliser. The app then makes suggestions about the most profitable way to apply the fertiliser. The app works even at very low levels of investment and help farmers to get the best possible returns.”

The app was developed using outputs of the research conducted in 13 countries and builds on the linear programming concepts developed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to determine where the crop-nutrient combination generates the most optimal benefits. The tool also ensures that fertiliser recommendations are made within the Integrated Soil Fertility Management framework, further ensuring cost-effectiveness for farmers.

Training programme

CABI is now rolling out a programme of training for additional extension workers on the use of the Fertiliser Optimisation Tools (FOT) with a target to reaching up to 1,600 more farmers in Uganda. Across Africa, over 3,000 extension workers have already been empowered to use the FOTs to advise farmers on how to maximise their profits from investments in fertilisers. This is another opportunity to out scale the FOT across Africa.

A social media campaign will also be utilised to help promote the mobile app for FOT across 13 African countries. These are Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

50 million families

George Oduor, Global Director Trade and Commodities at CABI, said: “There are over 50 million families living in the rural areas of the 13 countries where we have been exploring how to optimize fertiliser investment based on profit maximisation. With the right delivery partnerships in place, all these families can benefit from this work and achieve greater food security and improved livelihoods. This will contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 especially Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger.”

Hugo Claver Web editor for Future Farming