Area: Ghana, Kenya
Products: Legumes
Intensification drivers:Diversification, input supply chains, legume output markets, public–private partnerships including large companies and NGOs.
Motivation: N2AFRICA is a large scale, science-based research-in-development project focused on putting nitrogen fixation. The objective is to build sustainable, long-term partnerships to enable African smallholder farmers to benefit from symbiotic N2-fixation by grain legumes through effective production technologies, including inoculants and fertilizers.
Report: Please download the complete In Depth Case Study report here.
Read more: http://www.n2africa.org/

N2Africa case studies in Ghana and Kenya show what constrains households from intensifying their legume production. Realizing the potential demands a focus on the context, combining knowledge on good production practices with markets and agro-processing facilities.

Legume such as beans, groundnuts and soybeans are interesting crops as they fix nitrogen and thereby provide nutritious food and improve soil fertility. In the research and development project N2Africa, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wageningen and other researchers work on expansion of these crops, to improve food security, nutritional status and well-being of smallholder farmers across eleven countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Two case studies, in Ghana and Kenya, were part of the PRO-Intense Africa project. The goal was to determine the effect of legume production on farming households and its wider environmental, economic and societal aspects.

Agricultural extension

In both countries, a literature research, stakeholder interviews and household surveys were conducted. Results were shared and discussed with a wide range of stakeholders to discuss and verify the outcomes and to prioritize areas for further action and research. The meetings deepened our understanding, Wageningen PhD-candidate Wytze Marinus explains. “It corroborated our findings for the case study areas, but also showed that they could not be extrapolated to the whole of western Kenya or northern Ghana due to variations in local agro-ecological circumstances and physical distances to markets. Further it highlighted the need of local NGOs and extension agents for site specific information on what kind of legumes could be grown, the inputs needed and possible yields in farmers’ fields.”

Photo: Wageningen UR | Arnold John Labrentz / Shutterstock.com Finding a market

The importance of the context within which farmers operate is shown through an example from the Kenya study. Marinus: “When an important tobacco factory left the research area, the local government promoted soybean as an alternative cash crop. But the campaign failed. In cooperation with the government, N2Africa brought knowledge about growing soybean and linked-up farmers’ groups and wholesale buyers. If such cooperative action can be expanded, big gains could be made.” Then farming as a business might even become attractive to youngsters again.

N2AFRICA– Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers growing legume crops