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OFRA baseline: Summary survey results shared

The OFRA baseline survey was conducted during April and May 2014. To gather our list of names we spoke with people we knew to be involved in the fertilizer research in various institutions and asked them to share their contacts. Our list snowballed into 416 contacts. 219 people responded to the questionnaire from 12 of the 13 participating countries.

Participants were split into 6 categories:

  • Policy makers
  • Extension workers
  • Researchers (soils and agronomists)
  • Farmers organizations
  • Fertilizer companies
  • Agro-dealers

The number of study participants from each category was informed, to a large extent, by the importance of the category in the generation of fertilizer recommendations

During the OFRA inception meeting, principle investigators from the project countries listed fertilizer recommendations. For maize, 6 (50%) of the 12 fertilizer recommendations did not follow the agro-ecologicalzones.

Ghana reported the highest number of crop-targeted fertilizer recommendation. Out of 6 crops (maize, beans,rice, wheat, millet, and cassava) none were reported to follow afro-ecological zones. The same was true in Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Zambia and Burkina Faso. In Tanzania, half the recommendations were reported to follow agro-ecological zones.

Summary of findings

14% of extensionists and researchers reported using models and spatial (digital mapping) information for extrapolating the fertilizer response functions

51% of the scientists were aware of fertilizer optimisation tools, and 31% reported to having used such tools

31% of extension workers were aware of fertilizer optimisation tools but none had used them

Around 5% of the participants reported that other stakeholders were involved in the development of fertilizer recommendations – including farmers, farmer

organisation’s, policy makers, researchers (scientists),extension workers, agro- dealers, fertilizer companies and donor organisations. Nigeria, Ethiopia and Malawiall reported significantly higher figures – with Nigeria coming top at 15%.

The majority of the study participants reported that they produced information communication materials, but only between 1–2% thought they produce appropriate communications materials. 70% of the participants said this was because they had not received appropriate training.

A small proportion (up to 18%) in all the target countries stated they had access to communication material appropriate for their targeted audiences.

Over 50% of the communication materials produced are in print form. But 80% of respondents preferred to have materials in print and audio/audio-visual formats.

36% advocated the use of information communication technology, especially mobile phones.

In conclusion, there is substantial awareness of various optimiser tools among the researchers and extension staff in project countries. But use of these tools is limited. For a minority there is an understanding that development of fertilizer recommendations is a multi-stakeholder initiative and that such recommendations across project countries fosters greater ownership and sustainability. But a common experience is that people are working with materials that fall short of the needs of their audiences.

For more information contact Harrison Rware at OFRA.