A promising practice: integrated plant nutrient management in Mali

A promising practice: integrated plant nutrient management in Mali

Participatory project increases agricultural productivity in Mali

This paper reports on the participatory integrated plant nutrient management (IPNM) project undertaken in Mali. The objective of the project was to increase food security through improving soil fertility management. The project used a participatory process to identify farmer’s constraints and opportunities with regard to agricultural production.

The project focused on IPNM practices that can be implemented at a low cost but significantly raise productivity. The following techniques were made available to the farmers: microdosing of fertiliser; the zai method (mini water catchments); use of manure, crop residue, and household waste for composting along with the improvement of the quality of the compost by Tilemsi Phosphate rock (PNT); and straw treatment with urea.

Farmers prefered to use the microdose application of fertiliser which consists of mixing seed and fertiliser prior to sowing. This technology did not significantly increase labour demand and the technology could be applied over large areas. It also increased production – average pearl millet yield increased by 55% and average sorghum yield increased by 42%. The project was also successful in terms of non-selected farmers using the technologies on their own initiative - networking at the local level and the use of channels of diffusion helped promote the project and spread its adoption.

Lessons learnt from the project include:

  • low risk and limited capital investment are important characteristics of a technology
  • farmer’s participation in testing and demonstrations are key to convincing other targeted actors
  • workshops, radio programmes diffusions, and presentations to national actors are important means of informing stakeholders about the new technologies
  • partnerships between NGOs and local targeted actors are essential.
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