Facilitation of partnerships towards the development and dissemination of resource-use efficient soil management recommendations for priority farming systems in West Africa

Agricultural productivity in Sub-Sahara Africa is low and needs to dramatically increase to improve food security and income generation for an increasing rural population. Integrated Soil Fertility Management is widely accepted as the paradigm for intensification of agriculture in an eco-efficient manner. However, there are few farmers that practice ISFM in part because information is non existing or not readily available to them. Data from a variety of trials is not collected and analysed in a systematic manner and translated into practical guides and instructions that are relevant to the farmer, participatory evaluation of best ISFM options is not well organized, capacity building efforts of major stakeholders is fragmented and engagement of crucial stakeholders may be lacking. The Soil Health Consortia are established to bring key stakeholder together to work on soil health interventions. Participants include the research insitutions, development and outreach partners, farmer organisations and private sector including the agro-input dealers, input supply and output market actors. The aim is to harmonize data collection and interpretation, avoid duplication of efforts, improve extension and better target interventions to local conditions and farming systems. Also the use of existing data on soil health status needs to be improved. The project will work together with AfSIS and other research initiatives (Flagship 3 program research on non-responsive soils) to get better insight in the problem on non- and less responsive soils and how to address this. The soil health consortia are looking at scaling out of ISFM technologies for wider adoption and not targeting specific regions. As such it is important to have an proper understanding of the variability in production factors such a land and soil (AfSIS). This activity will link with research on non-responsive soils to get information on the severity of this problem and to devise recommendations on how to address it. The opportunity for increasing agricultrual productivity will be evaluated against possible impacts on other ecosystems services within the context of agricultural production landscapes, realizing that un sustainable management practices has led to loss of ecosystem services (increased erosion, water scarcity). The anticipated outcome will be strengthened national partnerships and imporived capacity at the national level leading to more effective and efficient ways to identify, evaluate and disseminate best ISFM options, inlcuding fertilizer recommendations, that are specific for the varying farming environments. The project is carried out in close collaboration with a similar project for the East and Southern Africa region. The project will test its ToC by evaluating whether improved access to actionable information on ISFM leads to changed practice of both farmers and the intermediately organizations.