Producers and extension agents trained on fertilizer microdosing mechanization in Mali
Fertilizer microdosing, a technology developed by ICRISAT and partners in Western Africa has contributed to increases in production, productivity and incomes. It involves the manual application of fertilizer into planting holes as a response to low soil fertility, limited access to fertilizers and difficult climatic conditions in the Sahel. However, this time consuming and labor-intensive manual technology is taking a mechanized turn.
According to Kamkam Woumou of the Institut d’ Economie Rurale (IER), “When scientists at IER saw producers mixing fertilizer with seeds at sowing in order to save on labor, the institute along with partners, the Department of International Environment and Development Studies (NORAGRIC) and GCOZA, developed a special disk and a particularly innovative planter that simultaneously sows a mixture of seeds and fertilizer and allows for mechanization of the fertilizer microdosing technology used in Mali.”
While the manual application of fertilizer can take up to six working days per person for an area of over 1 hectare, the mechanized application takes only one working day per person. Mechanization reduces time and labor, leads to the sowing of seedlings in a straight line, and accurate seed and fertilizer drop into the planting hole, thereby facilitating crop growth.
A training program on mechanized microdosing of fertilizer was conducted for 22 cereal producers and testers, members of farmer organizations, and agricultural extension officers from southern Mali at ICRISAT – Samanko on 28-30 May. Farmer organizations and extension agents were given disks to experiment in their respective zones during the cropping season. The idea is to test the technology in combination with hybrid and improved seeds of sorghum and pearl millet and complementary fertilizer application at weeding and ridging. Depending on the results of these tests, it is planned to make this technology available on a larger scale in Mali.
Says one of the trainees, Seydou Coulibaly from the Union Local des Producteurs du Cercle de Dioila, “If the test is successful, we will acquire disks for all our members because it could contribute to an increase in cereal production”. Balla Togola, President of Union des Sociétés Coopératives des Producteurs de Maïs de Dièdougou, another farmer union, is highly optimistic of the technology’s ability to reduce expenses and increase productivity.
ICRISAT will test the technology in Nigeria. According to Aliyu Adinoyi, ICRISAT Research Assistant with ICRISAT – Kano, “We have acquired planters and disks. I am here to see how the machine works. If the technology is tested and introduced to farmers in Nigeria, it will reduce the cost of planting, lead to the optimum use of seed, and reduce seed wastage. We have met some manufacturers and are exploring ways of improving the technology in Northern Nigeria, mainly in Katsina, Kano, Jigawa and Bauchi states.”
Earlier projects on microdosing by ICRISAT and partners like the Alliance for a Green Revolution led to substantial impacts – 25,000 smallholder farmers in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger experienced increases in sorghum and millet yields of 44-120%, along with an increase in their family incomes by 30%.
This training was organized by ICRISAT
in collaboration with IER as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems and the HOPE project.