Transforming Ethiopia’s Agriculture Through Agronomy Innovation: The Landscape Segmented Fertilizer Advisory

  • From
    Sehlule Muzata
  • Published on
    09.08.23

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In the heartland of Basona Werana District in Ethiopia, a remarkable agricultural transformation is taking place, thanks to a groundbreaking collaboration between the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) of Ethiopia through the support of the Excellence in Agronomy (EIA) Initiative. This collaboration has led to the developing and implementing of a game-changing approach – the Landscape Segmented Fertilizer Advisory (LSFA). LSFA is a precision farming approach that tailors fertilizer recommendations to the unique needs of each landscape segment. The tool considers soil type, rainfall, topography, and crop variety factors. LSFA also uses digital tools to collect data and send advice to farmers, which helps to improve the accuracy of fertilizer recommendations.

Farmers are using a new approach called Landscape Segmented Fertilizer Advisory (LSFA) to increase their crop yields and improve their livelihoods. At its core, the Landscape Segmented Fertilizer Advisory is a testament to the power of partnerships. By integrating the wisdom of farmers, the expertise of extension agents, and the insights of agricultural researchers, this approach has ushered in a new era of precision farming tailored to the unique needs of each landscape segment. Through the magic of digital extension, this innovative strategy has optimized fertilizer usage and facilitated knowledge exchange and collaboration on an unprecedented scale.

Imagine the landscape as a canvas, each segment representing a distinct ecosystem with challenges and opportunities. This approach recognizes the significance of localized solutions in the complex mosaic of modern agriculture. By integrating the knowledge of farmers, cooperatives, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), and Community Groups (CGs), the Landscape Segmented Fertilizer Advisory guarantees the creation of practical agronomic solutions informed by grassroots feedback. This approach emphasizes incorporating farmer input rather than imposing solutions from external sources.

This dynamic partnership has given birth to a thriving community of practice where insights flow freely through social media channels. Lead farmers, extension agents, agricultural experts, and researchers unite in a digital symphony of planning, implementation, monitoring, and feedback.

The result? 

Trust is nurtured, local capacity is enhanced, and evidence-based innovations find fertile ground to flourish.

The impact of the LSFA collaboration is undeniable. Farmers have witnessed a staggering 29% increase in sorghum yields, a remarkable 17% boost for teff, and a commendable 13% rise in wheat production by embracing landscape-specific fertilizer recommendations. LSFA has also helped farmers to reduce their fertilizer costs and improve their soil health.

But the benefits extend beyond the harvest. Economically optimized fertilizer application has empowered farmers to reduce costs on challenging hillslope soils while increasing nutrient investments on more promising lower slopes. This responsive strategy addresses rising fertilizer costs and underscores the vital importance of sustainable landscape management.

Almaz Mengistu is one of the extension agents who work in Basona Werana District, Aba mote kebele

Front and center in this agricultural revolution are extension agents like Almaz Mengistu. Almaz Mengistu is an extension agent in the Aba Mote kebele of Basona Werana District. She is one of the change agents who are driving the LSFA revolution. Almaz has been instrumental in training farmers on LSFA and helping them to implement the approach. She has also been working with farmers to monitor the impact of LSFA and to make adjustments as needed.

In the Aba Mote kebele of Basona Werana District, Almaz embodies the essence of change agents driving this transformative journey. Armed with a new understanding of the landscape-segmented approach and armed with digital tools, Almaz embarked on a mission of empowerment.

Her journey began with identifying participant farmers, clustering adjacent holdings into groups, and enlisting the help of lead farmers. She imparted the wisdom of landscape-specific fertilizer advisory through tailored training sessions, leaving no stone unturned. With MPRO tools, Almaz meticulously measured and delineated each farmer’s field, ensuring accuracy at every step. She communicated the required fertilizer quantities through SMS and printed memos, enabling farmers to make informed decisions.

But Almaz’s role didn’t end there. She conducted rigorous supervision, monitoring planting, weeding, urea top dressing, and pesticide application. Armed with quadrants, she collected agronomic data, sampled crops, measured biomass, and gauged yields – a symphony of meticulous care to nurture the land and its potential.

The impact of Almaz’s efforts and those of countless other extension agents reverberates across several of the districts. It’s a harmonious convergence of expertise, innovation, and determination, creating a harmonious landscape where agricultural prosperity blossoms.

The story of the Landscape Segmented Fertilizer Advisory is far from over. Its digital roots run deep, empowering farmers, extension agents, and researchers alike to join hands in sculpting a resilient agricultural future. As the landscape transforms, so does the narrative of modern farming – a tale of collaboration, innovation, and sustainable growth, with Almaz Mengistu and her fellow extension agents leading the way.

Almaz is passionate about LSFA, and she believes that it has the potential to transform agriculture in Ethiopia. She says, “LSFA is a game-changer. It is helping farmers to increase their yields, improve their livelihoods, and protect the environment.”

Farmers in field in EthiopiaLSFA’s story is about collaboration, innovation, and sustainability. It is a story of how farmers, extension agents, researchers, and scientists work together to create a more prosperous future for agriculture.

About the CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy (EiA) Initiative

The CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy Initiative was launched in 2020 to improve outcomes for smallholder farmers amidst climate change. EiA is supported by the CGIAR Big Data Platform and will combine big data analytics, new sensing technologies, geospatial decision tools, and farming systems research to come up with scalable agronomic innovations for agricultural development. The initiative is not only responding to demand from the public and private sector but will also help increase efficiencies through stronger collaboration and cross-learning among CGIAR centers and within the broader agronomy R&D ecosystem. More information can be found at the CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy (EiA) website .

Follow the CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy Initiative (EiA) on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter, and for updates and information.

For further information regarding the CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy Initiative and for media inquiries, please don’t hesitate to contact Sehlule Muzata at B.Muzata@cgiar.org.

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