Improving agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is a wide and diverse region. In most of the countries in SSA, agriculture represents about 25% of the GDP, and 60% of employment. Around 70% of farms belong to smallholders, many of whom have limited access to inputs, and face problems such as depleted soils. Nevertheless, it is the world’s fastest growing region in terms of population, and experiencing some economic growth.

IPNI’s Sub-Saharan Program, run by Director Dr. Shamie Zingore, focuses on accelerating smallholders’ access to fertilizers, and spreading best management practices in fertilizer use in the region. Indeed, IPNI has identified several factors that are constraining SSA’s agricultural productivity, including the scarcity of water in some areas, severely depleted soils due to poor crop management practices or low fertilizer use due to bottlenecks in distribution channels or issues of affordability of inputs for farmers.

IPNI therefore runs several projects all over SSA to address these problems. One of these, which ran in Malawi from 2004-2005, helped the country to go from negative agricultural production figures to a surplus, thanks in big part to an increase in fertilizer use. In 2014, IPNI and IFA jointly launched a project in Ethiopia, entitled “Advancing 4R Nutrient Stewardship Knowledge in Support of Crop Production Intensification in Ethiopia”, whose planned outputs include the generation of new agronomic and economic knowledge generated on the impact of the 4Rs in maize production zones; the training of extension agents and farmers on the implementation of 4R practices; and the development of 4R extension pamphlets.

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Read more about the IPNI- IFA 4R project in Ethiopia project here and find out more about IPNI’s activities in SSA through the latest issue of IPNI’s series “Research for impact” on Boosting Soybean Yields and Raising Farmer Income in Kenya with Nutrient Management !