An upgrade to a mobile phone app now offers farmers across Africa even more benefits and cutting-edge fertilizer use technology. This will help farmers to grow healthier, more productive with increasingly profitable crops, as a result of more informed use of how small amounts of fertilizer impact the crops which they grow.
Pilot work on the CABI Fertilizer optimizer app in Uganda has shown that some farmers realised up to a seven-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. 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 Fertilizer Optimizer app is designed to help resource constrained farmers to maximise the return on investment on fertilizer, based on what they can realistically afford.
James Watiti, Coordinator – Development, Communication and Extension at CABI, explained: “The concept behind the CABI Fertilizer Optimizer app is easily transferable to the intermediaries and then to farmers through i training. Farmers think about the crops they wish to grow and what they can afford to spend on fertilizer. The app then makes suggestions about the most profitable way to apply the fertilizer. The Fertilizer Optimizer works even at very low levels of investment and helps 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 fertilizer recommendations are made within the Integrated Soil Fertility Management framework, further ensuring cost-effectiveness for farmers.
CABI is now rolling out a program of training for additional extension workers on the use of the Fertilizer Optimization Tool-(FOT) with a target to reaching up to 1600 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 fertilizers. 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.
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 fertilizer investment based on profit maximization. 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.”