Science Farmers Tool
The Fertilizer and Seed Recommendations Map for West Africa (FeSeRWAM), an innovative online tool designed to help agricultural value chain actors, has been launched.
It is a georeferenced web-based platform designed to assist smallholder farmers to access critical information on agricultural inputs based on parameters that users can select to describe their production system.
The agro input packages include crop details, fertilizer recommendations, best management practices, and color-coated maps showing where the crop grows.
A statement issued by the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF), signed by Ms. Princesse Lorita Simbou, the Media Consultant, and copied to the Ghana News Agency Accra, said the FeSeRWAM, launched virtually, is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development.
The International Fertilizer Development Center, a science-based public international organization working to alleviate global hunger, as well as CORAF, an international non-profit association working to enhance prosperity, food, and nutrition security in West and Central Africa, are implementing the project.
According to the statement, the tool provides recommendations to increase the demand for and use of appropriate fertilizers, improved seed varieties, and good agricultural practices to increase agricultural productivity in West Africa.
“A tool such as the FeSeRWAM has come at the right time. It will help address many challenges our farmers face in their effort to sustainably increase agricultural yields based on appropriate recommendations and support.
“Stakeholders need to embrace this tool and work to encourage its adoption across the region,” said Dr. Emmanuel Njukwe, CORAF Director of Research and Innovation, at the launch of the tool, the statement quoted.
The statement indicated that users of the tool could input West African towns, countries, or select regional climate – arid, semi-arid, sub-humid or humid.
“For a more advanced search, the user can click more and then filter for potential yield, days to maturity, pest/disease resistance, and rainfall,” according to the statement.
The FeSeRWAM platform currently delivers over 900 agro input packages on 27 crops and 771 seed varieties for 13 countries, enabling more than 600,000 farmers in West Africa and Chad to increase their agricultural productivity and improve their wellbeing.
Giving a background to the development of FeSeRWAM, the statement said through a collaborative process that occurred between October 2018 and July 2020, the original platform’s development involved more than 350 strategic stakeholders from various national and regional organizations.
“Based on feedback from users, the projects and partners began updating the platform in 2021 to improve user experience, interface, and data and address new developments in terms of high potential varieties and fertilizer products in various countries,” the statement explained.
FeSeRWAM is designed and targeted to benefit agro dealers and agricultural extension agents to determine inputs suitable for their specific agroecological zone, which can be used as backstopping and training material for farmers.
It is also meant for policy and decision makers to select inputs for subsidy programmes, as well as for farmers to use recent technologies to increase agricultural yields.
For fertilizer blenders, the tool will help them to use nutrient requirements to select appropriate raw materials for blending site-specific fertilizers.
“When properly utilized, the tool will help increase agricultural productivity and production in a sustainable manner to improve food security in West Africa and Chad,” the statement noted.
It said the tool will assist researchers to adapt one country’s agro input packages to the specific agroecological zone of another country.