Despite many years of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) research investment in Kenya, there is still low and declining crop productivity, especially among smallholder farmers. This has been attributed to, among other factors, low uptake and adoption of improved Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) technologies by smallholder farmers. The underlying reasons for the low adoption include limited access to and poor dissemination of the improved ISFM innovations. Conventional technology transfer approaches are based on the pipe-line approach of researcher – extension – farmer linkage, which neglect scaling-up/out of research results to other players in the Agricultural Products Value Chains (APVC) such as input and credit providers and policy formulators.
Frequently, institutions supposed to guide farmers on appropriate farming techniques work in isolation of each other and often with the same group of farmers, thus leading to duplication of efforts and waste of resources. This also results in many inappropriate technology recommendations that confuse target farmers and lower technology adoption. At the national level, there is no forum to provide technical knowledge to policy makers on best approaches to stimulate agricultural production. Considering that promotion of ISFM is knowledge-intensive, there is need to have a soil health forum at the national level to harmonize ISFM innovations and provide stakeholders with a forum for effective outreach to target farmers.
It is based on this realization that the Soil Health Program of AGRA, the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI) and various other stakeholders in the agriculture sector met and proposed to establish the Kenya Soil Health Consortium (KSHC). The Consortium under the leadership of KARI has established a collaborative platform with a aim of:
- Improving access by smallholder farmers and other stakeholders to ISFM innovations
- Enhancing generation and dissemination of ISFM innovations by harmonizing the approaches, recommendations and protocols by key institutions engaged in agricultural research
- Advancing the dissemination of ISFM innovations by developing and hosting the national ISFM database and appropriate knowledge products
The consortium will be implemented as a sub-grantee to the International Plant Nutrition Institute, who will coordinate the activities of KSHC. IPNI will also support training activities and facilitate linkages with similar initiatives in Africa.