Initiation of a fertilizer stakeholder forum for Eastern and Southern Africa
The IPNI SSA program was recently tasked by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to initiate and lead a fertilizer stakeholder forum for Eastern and Southern Africa. The fertilizer stakeholder forum aims at supporting fertilizer companies in the region to develop fertilizer products that are relevant for various agroecologies and crops. This will be accomplished by building the capacity of fertilizer companies on good agronomic practices coupled with support in form of crop response data, soil fertility maps and decision support tools.
To initiate activities, an operationalization workshop was held in Malawi on the 7th and 8th of February 2017. The workshop targeted top experienced fertilizer and development experts with experience in Malawi soils and the fertilizer landscape. In total, the workshop was attended by 105 participants drawn from various institutions in Malawi, USA, Kenya and South Africa. Key among the institutions that led major discussions on science-private sector-policy linkages included the, Malawi agricultural input directorate, the fertilizer association of Malawi, Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources (LUANAR), the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), the Africa Fertilizer Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) and the Agriculture and Food Security Center Columbia. The featured projects included the IPNI/LUANAR led Malawi soil health consortium, the CABI/LUANAR led Optimization of fertilizer recommendation and the Ag Center Columbia led, Soil Testing Kit (SoilDoc) based Malawi fertilizer blend development project. The key objectives of the workshop were:
- i) To facilitate exposure of fertilizer companies to available data and scientific support for developing more effective fertilizer products for Malawi
ii) To facilitate exposure of policy makers to available data on crop response and fertilizer trends for purpose of developing data driven fertilizer policies going forward
iii) To initiate a fertilizer stakeholder forum that would enable knowledge to flow from research institutions to private fertilizer companies and vice versa
The outputs of the workshop include; (a) creation of a platform for engagement between the researchers, Malawi based fertilizer companies and policy makers (b) development of timelines for training fertilizer companies on various decision support tools including the nutrient expert and the fertilizer optimization tools (c) development of a taskforce for harmonization of fertilizer data and soil fertility/crop response maps for various Malawi regions.