23 November 2021, Africa: Awards of USD $5,000 have been conferred to two African scientists working within innovative soil fertility outreach programs for Africa. This award is part of an on-going initiative co-sponsored by the African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI), Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), and OCP Group.
Below is a brief summary about this year’s African Plant Nutrition Outreach Fellowship Award recipients.
Mr. Mustapha EL JANATI – Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) / Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire HASSAN II, Rabat, Morocco
Mr. El Janati’s project is focused on the promotion and extension of best management practices for composting date palm residue within the unique desert oasis agroecosystems that are cultivated intensively in Morocco.
“The sustainable management of agricultural soils must adapt to changing types of agricultural production and societal expectations. In order to improve the efficiency of the fertilizers supplied, particular attention must be paid to the recycling of crop residues,” explains Mr. El Janati.
The date palm is the environmental, economic and social pillar of the oasis ecosystem in the Saharan and Pre-Saharan regions. It creates the “oasis effect” in the form of a favorable microclimate for the organization and development of other associated annual, multi-annual and arboreal crops.
The evolution of oasis production systems in recent decades has led to questions about the best management methods for date palm residues. Un-recycled dry palms constitute a burden on the oasis and promote the development of diseases and pests harmful to the date palm and other associated crops. Dry palm incineration contributes to air pollution and the spread of fires.
“The project’s purpose is to accelerate dissemination of composting best practice to farmers with a goal of better management of dry palms and sustainable development of oases,” continued El Janati.
To this end, Mr. El Janati proposes to supplement the current knowledge base and increase the interest of advisers and extension workers on the production and use of dry palm composts in oasis production systems.
Dr. Mutiu Abolanle BUSARI — Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria
Dr. Busari’s project centers around expanded dissemination of AKILIMO (a Swahili word meaning Intelligent Agriculture or Smart farming) technology to farmers located in the many of the cassava-producing states of Nigeria that have been yet to be touched and are unaware of this advanced fertilizer recommendation decision support tool.
“Agricultural extension agents in these states need to be trained so as to equip them with the working principles of the AKILIMO tool,” explains Dr. Busari. “The impact of COVID-19 is making this extension effort difficult and the pandemic has caused a serious food crisis in Nigeria such that the deployment of agronomic advisory tools like AKILIMO is urgently needed.”
So far, farmers in major cassava-growing states of Ogun, Oyo and Osun States in southwest Nigeria have benefited significantly in terms of yield and profit from the use of the tool. Through an extension of training-of-trainer events and on-farm data collection, the project hopes to bridge the common knowledge gaps in the states of Ondo, Ekiti and Lagos.
“By facilitating greater use of the AKILIMO tool within the decision-making process on fertilizer use, we can begin to raise cassava yields across a larger area and address the critical issues of food security in Nigeria,” added Busari.