Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa, using a development to research approach

Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa, using a development to research approach

The N2Africa Phase II US $25.3M grant has been officially approved. N2AFRICA is a large scale, science-based “research-in-development” project focused on putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers growing legume crops in Africa. 

N2AFRICA is funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Howard G. Buffet Foundation. It is led by Wageningen University together with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and has many partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

4 November 2013. Nairobi. The the results and achievements of the first phase of N2Africa were presented during a meeting in Nairobi.

  1. The first session provided an overview of the project and gave impressions that tell the story of what the project has done and the impact the project has generated.N2Africa has invested substantially in identifying the best grain legume varieties and appropriate management practices for integration into African farming systems. Variety trials were conducted to acquire promising varieties of bean, cowpea, groundnut and soyabean, comparing them to current lines for yield, N2-fixing capacity and adaptation to abiotic and biotic stresses. Input trials are conducted to assign the best-fit agronomic practices to the best varieties.
  2. The second section was on results and outcomes: the agronomy research, the rhizobiology work and the delivery and dissemination. We will discuss how to improve delivery of the results and outcomes achieved.
  3. In the third section the ‘development to research’ approach was discussed, with feedback from the partners and stakeholders in the public and private sector on how development is achieved, on the role of research is in this process and how the different partners and stakeholders reflect this through their activities.
  4. In the final section conclusions were drawn on the lessons learned and the way forward to achieve sustainable impact for the smallholder farmer community through improving farming system productivity using legume and BNF technology.

N2Africa’s second phase will aim to increase farmers’ access to inputs such as fertiliser and inoculants. It will also work on access to markets for farmers to sell their produce.

There will also be more focus on building the capacity of African NGOs and researchers, says Giller, “to ensure a legacy of expertise that can develop locally appropriate nitrogen-fixing legume technologies in the future”.


N2 Africa Partner, Kenya – Dr Josephine Ongoma .

N2Africa Zimbabwe, Seed Quality and Variety

N2Africa Country Coordinator, Mozambique – Steve Boahen 

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