Innovative Nutrient Stewardship Program Boosts Productivity for Farmers in Ghana, Ethiopia

June 4, 2021

Solutions from the Land and a diverse group of collaborating partners today released a new case study and video highlighting an innovative project designed to provide 80,000 smallholder farmers in Ghana and Ethiopia with the knowledge and skills to best use fertilizers and other nutrients to optimize crop growth on traditionally low-productive and soil-degraded acreage.

The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Project, funded by Global Affairs Canada, was launched two years ago by Fertilizer Canada and its implementing partner Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF Canada). The project promotes the “right source, right rate, right time and right place” for nutrient applications – an approach that emphasizes climate-smart agriculture and serves to guide farmers to the management practices that help keep nutrients on and in the field. In addition to improving crop productivity, the project also aims to boost farm income.

According to SfL President Ernie Shea “The project focuses not just on improving the productivity of key food crops in the targeted countries, but on improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers –half of them women – and on creating strategies for environmental resilience and gender equity.”

The project also strives to help farmers achieve nine of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, including those focused on social and economic issues and gender equality.

Field activities began in 2020 with multiple 4R demonstration sites where farmers and local extension volunteers gain practical knowledge. Farmers are beginning climate-smart 4R practices on their own farms this year. An expansion of the project to Senegal is expected to begin in 2021 with demonstration plots and training of smallholder farmers.

The broad scope of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Project emphasizes that the challenges of agriculture cannot be solved only with inputs from the industry that Fertilizer Canada represents, said Clyde Graham, Executive Vice President of the trade group in a project overview laid out in the report.

“The fertilizers, along with other locally available nutrient sources used according to 4R principles, are a component of the effort to equip farmers with the skills and knowledge to use the expansive, climate-smart, best-management practices that can spark a global agricultural renaissance,” said Graham. “The comprehensive, holistic model also seeks to reduce post-harvest food waste, improve agricultural extension outreach, lead to stable markets and supply chains, improve profitability for farmers and their communities, and promote greater gender equity.”

The release of the project report and video, written and filmed by Solutions from the Land, with support from Fertilizer Canada and CDF Canada, coincides with a special session of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS 48), which today endorsed a new set of policy recommendations on “Agroecological and other Innovative Approaches for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems that Enhance Food Security and Nutrition”.  SfL participated in the development of these guidelines as a member of the Private Sector Mechanism negotiating team and welcomes their adoption by CFS. These approaches include but are not limited to agroecology, climate smart agriculture, precision agriculture and improved nutrient use efficiency that uses a variety of strategies and tools such as digitalization and improved seeds to support the adaptive capacity of agriculture. SfL supports the continued work and research that develop options that respect the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable agriculture is important.

For additional information, contact SfL President Ernie Shea at 410-952-0123, or [email protected].

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Solutions from the Land (SfL) builds and facilitates state, national and global initiatives and alliances through which farmers, ranchers, foresters and collaborating partners showcase examples of innovation and proactively advocate for policies, partnerships, investments and research that will enable agricultural landscapes to deliver near-term, cost-effective, integrated solutions to global mega-challenges: food and energy security; sustainable economic development; climate change and environmental improvement. For more on SfL, click here.

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