Microdosing in Africa

Impoverished soils and low yields are the bane of Africa’s small farmers. Chemical fertilizers are a critical input. The fertilizer microdosing technology using a bottle cap can boost productivity, improve the tolerance of sorghum and pearl millet to drought and temperature stress and make plant nutrient use more efficient to raise yields.

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Interventions

  • Precision farming technique developed where a small dose of fertilizer is strategically placed with
    seed at planting time
  • Small packs of fertilizer are sold in community-managed 
    input stores – linked to agrodealers – installed in villages for easy access to farmers.
  • The warrantage or inventory credit system set up: Farmers place part of their harvest in a local
    storehouse in return for inventory credit to meet pressing postharvest expenses and engage
    in dry-season, income-generating activities. The stored grain can be sold later in the year at much higher prices for profit.
  • This has been implemented in Mali, Burkina Faso,
    Niger and Zimbabwe.

Impact

  • 25,000 smallholders farmers in Mali, Burkina Faso and
    Niger trained
  • Subsidized fertilizer has been authorized for use on
    millet and sorghum farms in Niger and Mali
  • Village-level input stores were created for
    distribution of government-supplied fertilizer in
    Niger and Mali
  • 39% of the total cropping area covered
  • 300,000 farmers practising the technique in Zimbabwe
  • 393 farmer’s field days were held (2009-2012); 57,338 participants registered
  • 44-120% increase in sorghum and millet yields
  • 30% increase in family incomes between 2009 and 2012
  • $ 7 million savings in food imports
  • Generated a net present value of $ 26 million and an internal  rate of return of 36% by 2013
  • Policy impact in Mali and Niger
  • 133 showcase fields established in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger
  • Fertilizer use rates increased from 7.41 kg/ha to 11.45 kg/ha in the baseline study
  • 21- 68% rise in proportion of farmers using mineral fertilizer
  • 13 km to 6 km reduction in average distance to an input shop
  • 77% farmers used at least one type of mineral fertilizer compared to 48%  in a control village
  • Generated a net present value of USD 26 M and an internal rate of return of 36% by 2013.

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