ICL, a global manufacturer of products based on minerals, launched a Potash for Growth program in Ethiopia. The program is designed to unlock the potential of agriculture in the country by promoting balanced fertilisation among Ethiopia’s small farmers in order to increase their agricultural productivity and economic benefits from farming.
While Ethiopia has experienced strong agricultural growth over the past several years, the country remains challenged to significantly increase its crop yields and food security. Low fertiliser use, soil erosion, coupled with other traditional practices, result in severe nutrient depletion, widespread decline of soil fertility and low crop yields. The Potash for Growth program launched by ICL, in collaboration with its Ethiopian partners, includes a range of activities to increase awareness by Ethiopian farmers of the benefits of potassium fertilisers.
In 2014, over 600 potash demonstration plots were developed on farms to demonstrate that potassium fertilisers increase yields of major crops, such as teff, wheat, barley and sorghum. ICL has plans to add several hundred more demonstration plots on farmers’ fields and farmer training centers during 2015. Field days for farmers will also be organised at these demonstration plots.
The programme, Potash for Growth, also supports a nation-wide soil fertility mapping programme that is being conducted by the Ethiopian Agriculture Transformation Agency in collaboration with the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and its regional partners. The mapping will enable Potash for Growth to recommend the most appropriate fertiliser applications at the district and PA (Peasant Association or Kebele) levels.
Commenting on the programme, Stefan Borgas, President & CEO of ICL, said, "We are honored to play a role in Ethiopia’s rapidly growing agricultural sector by contributing our broad expertise in helping farmers to optimise their agricultural output, as well as our financial support, to enable Ethiopian government agencies to boost the country’s agricultural productivity. We believe that the programme will yield substantial benefits for the Ethiopian farming community, and, in the long-run, for food security in Ethiopia.”
In collaboration with Ethiopia’s national universities, ICL’s Potash for Growth programme supports research by graduate students in the areas of potassium in soil and plants in Ethiopia in order to increase knowledge of balanced fertilisation on various crops and to assist in developing specialists in plant nutrition.
ICL launched a similar Potash for Life project in India last year, creating nearly 600 demonstration sites in nine Indian states to demonstrate the benefits of balanced fertiliser use. After only one farming season, the three-year project has already achieved major progress in providing farmers with science-based evidence of the benefits of using potash fertilisers in Indian agriculture, as well as the profitability of using potash, which has been tested on more than 20 various crops.