Stories tagged: ifdc

Deborah Hellums: Can Fertilizers Help Us Mitigate Climate Change?

In this guest blog, Dr. Deborah Hellums, Chief Program Officer at the International Fertilizer Development Center outlines the ways that sustainable fertilizer use can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and play a role in SDG 13, combatting climate change. 

Every person alive depends on agriculture for food, but agriculture accounts for 12 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions. About half of these emissions come from arguably a most necessary component of agriculture: the use of nitrogen fertilizers. Mineral fertilizers, combined with organic fertilizers (along with other inputs and best management practices), currently keep about half of the global population alive. Without them, soils become devoid of nutrients, leading to low and declining yields and soil degradation, including loss of soil carbon. Continue reading

14 Ways Agriculture is Reducing Poverty

“Only by putting the poorest in charge of their own lives and destinies, will absolute poverty and deprivation be removed from the face of the earth.”

These words came from Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, 2015 winner of the prestigious World Food Prize, which was announced this summer. To celebrate the prize giving in Des Moines this October at the Borlaug Dialogue, we are delving into the ways our supporters around the world are using agriculture as a means to empower the poorest in the latest instalment in our “content mash-up” series.

Read on to find out how farmers are being helped to graduate to more sustainable livelihoods… Continue reading

Supporting Smallholder Cassava Farmers in Nigeria

As part of GCARD 2010, Farming First hosted a session entitled ‘Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action.’ Within the discussions, our panel of experts addressed several case studies that present different ways that partnerships have helped to empower smallholder farmers around the world.

Scott Mall – International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC)

The Cassava Plus project is a public-private partnership initiative helping farmers grow cassava for profit. The project is supported by Nigeria’s Taraba, Osun and Benue state governments, implemented by IFDC (a public international organization) and DADTCO (a Netherlands-based for-profit company) and funded by the Schokland Fund of the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

With over 38 million metric tons of harvested fresh cassava roots per year, Nigeria is the largest cassava-producing nation in the world. An estimated seven to eight million Nigerian farm families grow cassava, which serves as an important staple food crop for both rural and urban populations in many countries in Africa. In addition to its role as a traditional subsistence crop that provides food security insurance, cassava has great market potential as a source of flour and thus can serve as a partial substitute for imported wheat flour.

IFDC will organize and link farmers to the downstream DADTCO value chain and develop the capacity of farmers, agro-input dealers and other market players. These actions will support commercial production, reduce the mining of soil nutrients and make cassava production environmentally and economically sustainable. The Cassava Plus project has the potential to help change cassava from a subsistence to a cash crop, helping farm families maximize their incomes while also improving agricultural practices and soil fertility.

Safe Use Training for Kenyan Farmers

In the 1980’s, as more Kenyan farmers moved to using crop protection products as part of their growing practices, a clear need emerged for safe use training to ensure these farmers used their products safely and responsibly. In 1991, CropLife International launched its first Responsible Use Pilot Projects.

In Kenya, an initial phase focused on “training trainers” in order to build a sustainable local base of knowledge and enable large numbers to be trained in safe use quickly. The project evolved over time and expanded, initiating the use of innovative methodologies to reach multiple stakeholders.  A radio broadcast, “Using Chemicals Safely”, reached thousands of listeners and became one of the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation’s most popular shows. Textbooks, drama, and song played an important role in rural schools as the importance of educating youngsters was established. This was complemented by further training of farmers and retailers, helping many reach the standards set to meet Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) standards, an important certification for exporters.

The success of the Kenya pilot project has led to the training of more ‘master trainers’ who are now involved in training activities in several countries in the Africa and Middle East region. Partnerships have been formed in several countries, including  with IFDC, the United States Agency for International Development, GTZ, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization and Belgian Technical Cooperation to carry out these projects.

Farming First Welcomes IFDC to its List of Supporters

Picture 1IFDC has joined the group of organisations supporting the Farming First plan.

IFDC – an International Center for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development – is a public international organization addressing critical issues such as international food security, the alleviation of global poverty, environmental protection and the promotion of economic development and self-sufficiency. IFDC is helping to enrich and sustain the lives and livelihoods of people around the world.

IFDC is the only non-profit, science-based organization meeting the integrated soil nutrient management needs associated with a sustainable global food supply. IFDC was established in 1974 in response to the twin crises of food insecurity and rising energy prices. These parallel crises now threaten the world again.

IFDC has helped increase sustainable agricultural productivity in more than 130 nations through the development and transfer of effective and environmentally sound plant nutrient technology and agricultural marketing expertise. IFDC has also contributed to the development of institutional capacity-building in 150 countries through nearly 1,000 training programs, primarily as part of IFDC’s long-term agricultural development projects. These collaborative partnerships combine cutting-edge research and development with on-site training and education. Currently IFDC staff members are serving in more than 20 nations throughout Africa, the Near East and the Far East.

In February, Dr. Marjatta Eilitta, Director for IFDC’s North and West Africa Division, spoke at a Farming First conference held during the UN Commission on Sustainable Development preliminary session in New York.  You can watch a video of her presentation here.

New Fertilizer Method Uses Technology to Improve Efficiency, Lessen Impacts

Across Asia, millions of rice farmers depend on urea fertilizer to meet the nitrogen needs of the continent’s primary crop. Many farmers still spread urea into floodwaters to fertilize rice. This is highly inefficient – about two-thirds of the fertilizer is lost as greenhouse gas or becomes a groundwater pollutant.

Urea deep placement (UDP) is a more efficient and environmentally responsible method of fertilization. IFDC pioneered UDP research and helped introduce it in Bangladesh in the 1980s. UDP technology has since been spread to other countries in Asia, including Cambodia, Nepal and Vietnam.

Farmers using UDP place urea briquettes into soil near the rice plants. UDP increases nitrogen use efficiency because most of the urea nitrogen stays in the soil, close to the plant roots where it is absorbed more effectively. The net result is that crop yields are increased while pollution is lessened. Farmers using UDP are increasing yields by more than 20 percent while using 40 percent less urea.

By 2008/09, the Bangladesh Department of Agricultural Extension (with IFDC assistance) spread UDP technology to 500,000 hectares (ha) of rice fields, increasing production by 268,000 metric tons (mt) annually. UDP farmers had additional annual net returns of $188/ha.

UDP use reduced Bangladesh’s urea imports in 2008 by 50,000 mt, saving $22 million in fertilizer imports and $14 million in government subsidies. UDP generated an additional 9.5 days of labor per hectare – almost 4.6 million additional days of labor. More importantly, the additional rice has made 1.5 million more Bangladeshis food-secure.

The Bangladesh Government began expanding UDP technology this year to 2.9 million more farm families on 1.5 million ha. By 2011, rice production is expected to increase by almost 1 million mt, ensuring food security for an additional 4.2 million Bangladeshis.

The UDP technology not only improves farmers’ productivity and income, but the need for urea also creates employment opportunities. IFDC engineers developed a simple machine to mold urea into briquettes, and helped establish village-level businesses to manufacture and distribute the machines. Nearly 2,500 urea briquette machines are now in use across Bangladesh.

All farmers seek gains in efficiency and productivity, but nowhere is the need greater than in Africa. Because farmers worldwide face many of the same problems, a group of African farmers, scientists, policymakers, entrepreneurs and extension workers visited Bangladesh to see UDP use first-hand. As a result, the UDP technology is being introduced in Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Togo.

Visiting UDP rice fields in Niger, Chaibou Abdou, Secretary General to Niger’s Minister of Agriculture, said “Spiraling food prices spurred the government decision to boost rice production and reduce costly imports. Niger has 30,000 hectares of land with rice production potential. With UDP this land could supply 30 percent of our needs.”