A wealth of information materials

A farmers' group evaluating soyabean crops in Nigeria. Photo: Ken Giller

How can you get farmers to adopt new technologies? Farmer training on aspects such as legume production, inoculant application and output marketing have played a key role in the N2Africa project. The country coordinators for the five core countries share their experiences.

N2Africa generated a lot of knowledge about biological nitrogen fixation, agronomic practices and legume processing and marketing. This information was not only published in academic journals, but also translated into easy-to-use information. A legacy of training manuals, leaflets and posters has been left behind for other projects or organizations working with legumes.

During the first phase of N2Africa, farmers were trained using the lead farmer and satellite farmer model. Lead farmers trained directly by project staff then trained a number of satellite farmers in turn. Training guidelines for lead farmers were encapsulated in the booklet Biological Nitrogen Fixation (BNF) and Grain Legume Enterprise: Guidelines for N2Africa Master (or Lead) Farmers. This booklet focused on biological nitrogen fixation, inoculation, setting up an on-farm experiment, good agronomic practices for legume cultivation, post-harvest handling and marketing of legumes. Three different versions (in English) of this booklet were developed, one each for East and Central Africa (EAC), Southern Africa and West Africa.

Video: Collaboration between development economists and the N2Africa project in South Kivu, DRC; which is concerned with the understanding of technology dissemination and how knowledge is shared amongst rural communities. Produced by Taskscape Associates

Since then, many additional materials have been developed covering a wide range of topics, e.g. related to rhizobium strain isolation and characterization, processing legumes and adding value to them, or simplified instructions on applying rhizobial inoculants. Most of these materials have been adapted for the relevant context in the various N2Africa countries or translated into local languages.

Determining the lessons learned

Over the past five years, a great deal of attention was paid to extracting the lessons learned from the first phase and presenting this information in easy-to-use leaflets and posters for farmers and other people communicating agricultural advice to farmers (extension officers, NGO field staff). A major partner in this development was the African Soil Health Consortium (ASHC). A joint effort was made to ensure that the information presented was consistent and in line with information provided by other projects. A general booklet on Biological Nitrogen Fixation was complemented with country-specific information on good agronomic practices for the various legumes. A complete overview of all the materials developed during the project shows the wealth of information that was created and provides easy access to the material for other projects or organizations working with legumes.

Ghana, Samuel Adjei-Nsiah:

‘We achieved two key milestones’

Nigeria, Nkeki Kamai:

‘Farmers were always delighted to receive training’

Tanzania, Frederick Baijukya:

‘Farmers become eager to learn about technologies if they’re easily available’

Ethiopia, Endalkachew Wolde-Meskel and Tamiru Amanu Abete:

‘Model farmers play a pivotal role in informal farmer-to-farmer training’

Uganda, Peter Ebanyat, Justine Onyinge:

‘Local knowledge lies at the heart of improved production systems’

Training materials

The overview of all training materials is available at the N2Africa website. This overview includes a brief description of the various training materials developed, followed by the available information sorted by topic:

  • Biological nitrogen fixation and grain legume enterprise
  • Technical training and protocols
  • Rhizobium inoculation
  • Agricultural management practices for legumes
  • Post-harvest handling, processing and marketing of legumes

N2Africa’s recommendation tool

In addition to the wealth of knowledge collected in leaflets, booklets and posters, the knowledge and experience of N2Africa is also accessible through a simple online tool. Anyone interested in appropriate legume production information for a given region can access the tool to find summaries of varieties, inputs and agronomic practices that have been successfully tested by N2Africa.

A map shows the technology trial sites across the African continent, covering various agro-ecological zones. One click on a legume or a location on the map directly generates a prompt with technologies tested in similar agro-ecologies.

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