Farmers in Africa have not been fully convinced to invest in fertilizer due to uncertainty on returns to investment. This is despite the fact that, more than two-thirds of people in Sub-Saharan Africa rely on agriculture for employment with many living on small farms earning less than $1 per day. Usage of fertilizer has remained low and stagnant hence the yields in have been persistently lower than other parts of the world. To address the plight of the smallholder farmers’ inability to optimize productivity in fertilizer use, a collaborative research project Optimization of Fertilizer Recommendations in African (OFRA) 2013 to 2016 was designed through the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) funding, implemented by Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) and science support by the University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL). Broad objective was to develop AEZs and crop specific fertilizer recommendations for 13 SSA countries and development of fertilizer optimization approach for smallholder farmers to maximize returns to investment. This paper describes the optimization approach and how it works for farmers benefits. About 65 agro ecological zones (AEZs) specific fertilizer optimization tools (FOTs) for 14 important SSA crops (54%) were developed. Two complimentary tools the paper too and nutrient substitution table were developed to work concurrently with the FOT.
Key words: Optimization, profitability, farmers, approach, Africa, fertilizer optimization tools (FOTs), agro ecological zones (AEZs).
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