4R Solutions takes a spotlight later this month with the second in a series of webinars on the project. Set for February 28, the webinar continues SfL’s work promoting the 4R Nutrient Principles, which have the potential to address many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as the elimination of poverty, the eradication of global hunger, the assurance of clean water, and the curbing of climate change.
To stage this month’s webinar, SfL is teaming up with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), showcasing financial measures that are improving rural livelihoods through 4R Solution projects and IFAD’s Rural financial intermediation program.
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Project was conceived by Fertilizer Canada, an association that in 2017 published a report entitled, “Getting 4R Sustainability Right.” Specifically, the report touted Canadian farmers’ increased adoption of 4R principles – tenets that emphasize climate-smart agriculture, in part, by using the “Right source of nutrients, at the Right rate, applied at the Right time, and in the Right place.”
The five-year, $17-million stewardship project has been teaching farmers in Ghana and Ethiopia – through online and hands-on sessions, experiential learning platforms and demonstration plots – how to use the principles to increase yields that address hunger and ensure crops that can be sold to sustain livelihoods. The project also has been showing producers how to precisely apply inputs to decrease environmental and financial costs.
In addition to equipping farmers with the 4R principles, the project also is enabling growers to enhance their agricultural production, put together and strengthen farmer co-operatives, and increase the acceptance of women in leadership.
The 4R Solution project, which is funded by Global Affairs Canada, is being implemented in partnership with Fertilizer Canada, the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada and the African Plant Nutrition Institute. From all accounts, the project is successfully meeting its intent to show adopting more sustainable farming practices can increase resilience, incomes, and food security, all while reducing poverty for 80,000 smallholder farmers, particularly women.
Exemplifying the progress being made by the project was an SfL video and report produced last summer that highlighted the initial improvements in production through nutrient management as called for under the 4R Solution project. They also marked the strides being made to increase farmer knowledge, develop finance models, improve marketing channels, and elevate more women farmers to leadership roles.
The 4R Solutions project began in 2020 in Ghana and Ethiopia with test plots used in the training of community extension farmers who would take the knowledge and experience back to their communities for the 2021 planting season. The program is expected to expand to Senegal this year.
But the project has always been about more than the efficient and effective use of fertilizers. Project partners knew that increased yields and crop quality would go only as far the farmers’ ability to market it. The program encouraged extension initiatives, formation of marketing cooperatives, the inclusion of financing partners, and efforts to ensure women farmers – who make up half or more of Africa’s smallholder farmers – are groomed and empowered for leadership roles. Many of the community extension leaders and cooperative leaders in both Ghana and Ethiopia last year were smallholder women farmers.
Work in Ghana last year also included 1,500 youth and 50 Club Advisors from the national 4H program in Ghana. The clubs participated in field application of 4Rs, essay competition, and also creating educational videos, some of which were shown at the 4R Champion closing ceremony with 4H in Koforidua, Ghana, today. Project sponsors say the ceremony acknowledged the 4H youth who participated in the project as not only the future of farming in Ghana, but also the future botanists, biologists, and soil scientists who will enhance farming for decades to come.
Solutions from the Land (SfL) readily and proudly supports the effort to better enable and integrate technology and climate smart 4R principles and best agronomic practices to meet global SDGs. The 4R principles are being deployed through the Global 4R Nutrient Project in Africa aim to resolve food, energy, environmental and climate challenges, and we are proud to partner with Fertilizer Canada to tell this 4R Story from the Land.