Developing tools and a national taskforce to support appropriate fertilizer recommendation for Ethiopia

Dr Fentahun Mengistu, DG, EIAR addressing the participants at the National Workshop on Decision Support Tools for Appropriate Fertilizer Recommendation in Ethiopia. Photos: T Amede, ICRISAT

Dr Fentahun Mengistu, DG, EIAR addressing the participants at the National Workshop on Decision Support Tools for Appropriate Fertilizer Recommendation in Ethiopia. Photos: T Amede, ICRISAT

Participants at a recent national workshop agreed upon the need to start developing decision support tools for appropriate fertilizer recommendation and a national taskforce to lead this work and ensure inclusivity. Participants felt that a lot of scattered information existed across the country that could be used to create the tools.

In an effort to promote soil-test based fertilizer application, soil fertility maps are being prepared for different regions through the Ethiopian Soil Information System (EthioSIS) project. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) have invested resources to develop the soil-test based fertilizer recommendations for the country. A new national fertilizer blending program launched in February 2013 demonstrated the shift from DAP and urea fertilizers to blended fertilizers in the country.

There was consensus among the participants on establishing a national taskforce that will enhance the innovation process in appropriate fertilizer application in the country. The taskforce will also help facilitate linkages among stakeholders to achieve synergy in efforts.

“Given the diversity of agroecologies and soil types, diverse crop types, and crop production systems, there
is a need to further strengthen and refine fertilizer recommendations,” said Dr Fentahun Mengistu, Director General, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) in his opening remarks.

Validation of technologies, fine tuning and scaling up of the same, is gaining recognition in Ethiopia with EIAR and ICRISAT having carried out major validation studies in this context. EIAR conducted crop-fertilizer response trials in 65 districts, validating and refining previous soil-test based nutrient application. ICRISAT generated data on crop response to application of fertilizers from 510 on-farm experiments across Ethiopian highlands, through the USAID AfricaRISING project. The validation trials indicated that there is a huge variability in crop responses to application of fertilizers within a small area, depending on slopes, landscape positions, soil fertility gradients and crop types.

The taskforce will report to Dr Mengistu, DG, EIAR, with Dr Tesfaye Shimber, Director, Land and Water Research Directorate, EIAR and Dr Tilahun Amede Wondifraw, Principal Scientist, Natural Resources/ Systems Agronomy, ICRISAT, being responsible for organizing the taskforce and facilitating its functions. The main responsibility of the taskforce is to assemble the available information, identify data and knowledge gaps for further research and ensure stakeholder engagement in the development of simple and functional decision support tools.

The workshop was organized to synthesize existing but scattered research results at a national level; identify knowledge gaps and missing information for further research; create general understanding on the ongoing efforts and agree upon a common research approach in fine-tuning the fertilizer blending recommendation at local and regional scales.

The National Workshop on ‘Decision Support Tools for Appropriate Fertilizer Recommendation in Ethiopia’, was jointly organized by EIAR and ICRISAT.

For more on Ethiopia see http://exploreit.icrisat.org/page/ethiopia/696

Project: USAID AfriaRISING

Investor: USAID

Partners: EIAR, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Sinana Research Centre, Debre Birhan University, Mehoni Research Centre, Worabe University and ICRISAT

CGIAR Research Program: Water Land and Ecosystems

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