Working in partnership to improve fertilizer use within an integrated soil fertility management framework
Optimising Fertilizer Recommendations in Africa (OFRA) is a project led by CABI. The project is a partnership between CABI, the University of Nebraska Lincoln and National and agricultural research and extension systems in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. OFRA is supported by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
The aim of the project is to contribute to improved efficiency and profitability of fertilizer use within the context of integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) practices.
The project managed by George Oduor, from CABI. Professor Charles Wortmann of the University of Nebraska Lincoln (the OFRA science coordinator) leads the research effort and ensures the efficacy of the science. More information on OFRA team and their roles can be found on the ASHC/OFRA team page.
In March 2017 the project published a 228 page book Fertilizer Use Optimization in Sub-Saharan Africa to share the findings of the OFRA project. The publication is free to download from the ISFM materials library developed by the Africa Soil Health Consortium.
We work through partnerships to share data
OFRA works in Burkina Faso (l’institut de l’environnement et de recherches agricole), Ethiopia (Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research), Ghana (Soil Research Institute), Kenya (Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Institute), Malawi (Department of Agricultural Research Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security), Mali (Institut d’Economie Rurale), Mozambique (National Agricultural Research Institute), Niger (Institut National de Recherche Agronomique du Niger), Nigeria (Institute for Agricultural Research) , Rwanda (Rwanda Agriculture Board), Tanzania (Mlingano Agricultural Research Institute), Uganda (National Agricultural Research Laboratories) and Zambia (Zambia Agricultural Research Institute). National agricultural research and extension systems are conducting field research on the main food crops which include maize, sorghum, pearl and finger millet, teff, rice, cassava, beans, groundnuts, soybean, pigeonpea, and cowpea across a range of agro-ecological zones.
Data from relevant past research is also being collated together with findings from on-going research trials in a common database. This data has been used to develop fertilizer guidelines, that maximise profitability of fertilizer use, within an ISFM framework. This database is managed by Martin Macharia at CABI.
We develop practical tools
The data collected has been used to develop practical decision support tools including fertiliser optimisation tools. The fertilizer optimisation tools provide advice on how much fertiliser a farmer should use to maximise their profits, tailored to their individual situation.
Over 60 computer-based fertilizer optimisation tool (running on Excel) have been developed by the national research and University of Nebraska Lincoln. Paper-based versions of the tool have also been developed. The paper-based tools do not have the interactive of the Excel tool, instead they rely on three levels of financial investment.
Country by country resource summary:
Click below to view the various tools for each country.
We share knowledge
OFRA works closely with the Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC), another CABI-lead project that is disseminating information on integrated soil fertility management in sub-Saharan Africa.
ASHC works with partners in the OFRA project to package information and knowledge emerging from project experience for diverse audiences including, small holder farmers, and extension and policy makers.
A technical handbook on guidelines for developing on fertilizer recommendations will be published and research findings will be published in journals. In addition, appropriate communication materials for field practitioners have been developed:
Communication materials for training and extension will be developed in participatory way to build capacity of partners and local stakeholders in the process. Harrison Rware leads on monitoring and evaluation in the project.
Optimizing Fertilizer Recommendations for Africa (OFRA) seeks to increase crop productivity, profitability, and food security in smallholder farming systems in Africa.