High-yield blended fertilizers to be introduced

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The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) launched a fertilizer blending program on February 12,  with the aim of revolutionizing the way fertilizers are used. The program will introduce new high-yield blended fertilizers as well as establish four fertilizer production facilities.
The use of fertilizers previously has been limited to only diammonium phosphate (DAP) and Urea. “Ethiopia’s crop yields have been constrained by very limited set of imported fertilizers,” Khalid Bomba, CEO of ATA said.
Recently conducted researches and soil tests by the Ethiopian Soil Information System project, however, revealed the need for other nutrients that are not provided by the two types of fertilizers currently being used.
According to the CEO, by blending fertilizers in Ethiopia, farmers will have access to a wide range of soil nutrients. “They will actually be able to request custom blended formulas tailored to their specific soil needs,” Khalid added. A catalyst for change, by providing smallholder farmers with an access to innovative technologies and techniques, along with proven mechanisms and systems to help increase productivity and improve livelihoods, ATA anticipates that each farmer will be able to use fertilizers customized to their soil type so as to maximize their crop yields.
The program initially will work on four blending plants to be built in the four main agricultural regions; Oromia, Amhara, SNNP and Tigray regional states. The four plants collectively will have an annual capacity of producing 250,000 tonnes of blended fertilizers.
The plants will be operated by farmers’ cooperative unions, including Enderta in Tigray, Merkeb in Amhara, Becho Woliso in Oromia, and Melek Silte in SNNP.
The local blending plants, which will be introducing these expanded ranges of soil nutrients to Ethiopian farmers are currently under construction and will commence production in 2014. Experts from several stakeholders, including MoA, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EAIR), and the Regional Agricultural Research Institutes (RARIs), have already developed custom fertilizer formulas to be tested. The effectiveness of these blended fertilizers will be demonstrated at 5,000 farmer training centers (FTCs) and 50,000 farmers’ plots during the 2013 planting season. The formulas, however, are subject to continued update as the availability of more in-depth information and the need of the soil changes over time.
Several institutions, including regional bureaus of agriculture, EAIR and the RARIs, the Ministry of Industry, USAID, Allana Potash Inc., the World Bank (WB), the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) and CASCAPE have partnered and provided technical and institutional support for the project.