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Inception meeting heralds start of OFRA

“The inception workshop for Optimising Fertilizer Recommendations in Africa (OFRA) was a great success and it has set the course for this exciting project,” says George Oduor, the OFRA project manager. He continues: “It was a great achievement to bring together more than 50 staff from the delivery partners to share ideas about how the project should develop. There was a very positive atmosphere and, despite the complexity of the project, clarity emerged. The feedback from the delegates was good – they scored the meeting with a satisfaction rating of over 80%.”

The agenda shows how the workshop was scheduled and provides links to some of the PowerPoint presentations shared at the event.

The OFRA project is supporting fertilizer response trials in countries in Africa. These, together with data from previous studies and supplied by the partners, will be used as the basis to generate new fertilizer recommendations. CABI is coordinating the project in partnership with the University of Nebraska- Lincoln and National agricultural research organisations in 13 sub-Saharan countries.

George Oduor continues: “most countries already have fertilizer recommendations, albeit old. The big difference is OFRA’s recommendations will be designed to maximize profit for smallholder farmers for specific crops and locations. The customised recommendations will be shared with smallholder farmers through a mobile phone app and other tools. This will enable smallholder farmers to make informed decisions about the application of fertilizer, and help them to take into account integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) approaches. The application of organic matter and intercropping and/or rotating with legume crops will be integral to the recommendations.”

The data generated by the project will be shared with the African Soil information Service (AfSIS) to help generate soil maps for Africa. At the same time, OFRA will be using AfSIS maps to review the national selection of sites for the fertilizer response trials.

Central to OFRA is the development of a fertilizer optimisation tool. George Oduor explains: “OFRA is working with the Grameen Foundation to develop a mobile app to offer customized advice to farmers. Once we have better information about the profitable use of fertilizer we expect a range of different agencies, from government extension services to universities and the fertilizer industry, to use this to create tools and approaches to serve smallholder farmers better. This is a very exciting aspect of OFRA.”

A report of the OFRA inception workshop sets out the action points agreed.

Presented below is an infographic that was developed during the workshop to show how the different facets of OFRA come together and some of the key relationships.