In 2013, IPNI launched the 4R project to develop and promote best fertilizer management practices. The 4R concept appears simple: apply the right source of nutrient, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place (detailed guidelines can be found in IPNI’s 4R Nutrient Stewardship Framework). Implementation, however, is both knowledge-intensive and site-specific.
“We’re in charge. Women know very well how to farm here,” explained patiently a young woman from San Gabriel de las Molinas, a hillside village three hours west of Mexico City where maize is critical to local livelihoods. Part of a focus group discussion that CRP MAIZE was facilitating, the woman was directly challenging a question suggesting that the village men were more productive farmers than the women. Indeed, this was not an ordinary focus group about local farming. This was part of the first pilot exercise to get the data collection tools ready for exploring gender norms and capacities for agricultural innovation in potentially 60 other villages around the world.
Kenyan women are crucial to the country’s agricultural economy, contributing 54 percent of agricultural labor-hours. Widowhood, reduced marriage rates and labor migration have led to female-headed households (FHHs) becoming significantly more common in Africa. A recent study conducted in Kenya also shows that FHHs are twice as likely as their male counterparts to suffer chronic food insecurity.
In South Asia, 90 percent of smallholder farmers using fertilizer do not achieve optimum crop yields due to a lack of access to soil testing services. In response to this information gap, the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) South Asia Program developed the Nutrient Expert® decision support tools in partnership with MAIZE CRP to provide location-specific fertilizer recommendations for farmers growing maize and wheat.
In February 2014, the tool received the award for Best Innovation at the Bihar Innovation Forum II, which recognizes innovations to improve rural livelihoods in India. Nutrient Expert® is the product of close collaboration with key partners such as national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES), seed and fertilizer industries, non-governmental organizations, farmers’ and women’s self-help clubs in India.