Strengthening agricultural value chains through increased responsible fertilizer use

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That is the question we asked ourselves, IDH Farmfit, together with the IDH Coffee Program team, the National Fertilizer Platform of Uganda, and the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership, during a workshop on fertilizer provision business models in Kampala this February.

Uganda is amongst the lowest users of fertilizer, both globally and regionally amongst East African peers. Increasing responsible fertilizer usage is positioned in Uganda as a critical mechanism for improving farm productivity and farmer outcomes. Yet, while some would suspect the features of the local context to reduce the viability of particular solutions, providing impactful services to farmers in a cost-efficient and sustainable manner is an ambition held across all our global partners. Instead, the acuteness of the situation ultimately highlights the potential of different SDM approaches and practices in transforming outcomes.

In this workshop, we convened a wide range of stakeholders covering the vast landscape of fertilizer provision and usage. Participants ranged from farmer organizations, fertilizer manufacturers, food processors, and fertilizer distributors to government officials, banks, research organizations, and NGOs. Such a diverse group of motivated individuals was crucial to our aims in illustrating how collaboration and partnerships can bolster the service delivery models that are necessary for increasing responsible fertilizer usage.

Our angle in this workshop was solutions from the perspective of the private sector rather than focusing on the enabling environment. Having first outlined the rationale behind the SDM methodology, we presented a handful of the best practices that we have encountered across the 75+ SDMs that we have done globally. These included Farmer Segmentation, Bundling & Sequencing Services, and Loan Provision, amongst others. After highlighting the considerations that service providers must take when considering such practices, we took steps to bring these ideas to the local context. In breakout groups, the participants were tasked with evaluating solutions against the different barriers to increased fertilizer usage, as well as thinking of concrete steps of how they could collaborate to reduce the implementation risks involved in certain identified high impact solutions.

After an energetic, collaborative, and highly engaging session, we wrapped up with a panel of key experts in the area. We would like to thank all of our participants, in particular our panel of Rachel Nakasita (Neumann Kaffee Gruppe / Ibero Bloom), Victor Otieno (Yara), Fiona Kisakye (Uganda National Agrodealers Association) and Solomon Seruwo (Croplife Uganda), and invite you to read the report, where we not only digest the localized outcomes from the event but bring these insights back to the global level and how they can apply elsewhere.

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