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.

Legumes bring atmospheric nitrogen into the crops and the soil through a symbiosis with Rhizobium bacteria, and they are an important source of protein in a healthy diet. Enhanced productivity of legumes thereby contributes to improvements in soil fertility, household nutrition and income. N2Africa enables African smallholder farmers to reap these benefits through the implementation of effective production technologies including inoculants and fertilizers.

N2Africa links scientific research with capacity building (from farmers to traders, development workers in extension and NGOs), educating MSc and PhD candidates, women’s empowerment, and access to input-output markets through Public-Private Partnerships. A strong network ensures continuous and independent improvement of technologies and market access.

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, N2Africa has been active since 2013 in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, and since 2009 in DRCongo, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. Focal legume crops are common bean, chickpea, cowpea, faba bean, groundnut and soyabean.

From best-bets to best-fits

The performance of a grain legume and the associated amount of nitrogen fixed depend on the interaction between the genotype of the legume, the genotype of the rhizobia, the environment and the management of the crop and field: (GL× GR) × E × M in short.

N2Africa selects and tests good-potential legume genotypes, does research to identify the best matching rhizobia strains and tries to optimize the management of legume fields. Testing of legume technologies by large numbers of farmers allows for tailoring and adapting legume technologies to specific sites and specific farmers. This results in a set of best-fit principles and options for each project area.


Direct beneficiaries of N2Africa are the farming households with increased benefits from biological nitrogen fixation – such as greater food and nutrition security or increased incomes – and the households benefitting from the network that was built to improve access to information, agricultural inputs and markets. By 2017, N2Africa had already reached more than 600,000 smallholder farmers with improved technologies for grain legume production.

Other beneficiaries are producers of legume seeds, legume-specific fertilizer mixes and inoculants through an increased demand for their product, as well as agro-dealers trading these products. Development project staff and scientists are exposed to new ways of doing science through the ‘development-to-research’ framework, and hands-on capacity building activities.

By working through national systems, training key stakeholders from farmers to traders, development workers in extension and NGOs, and by educating MSc and PhD candidates in each country, we build the capacity that can in the future sustain an independent and continuous improvement of legume production technologies.



N2Africa Map Overview : Core countries (dark green), Tier 1 countries (light green).

     Click here to download the N2Africa Final Report of the First Phase.

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Congress of the African Association of Biological Nitrogen Fixation (AABNF2018), April 22nd-24th 2018, New Beach Hotel, Oran, Algeria.

13th European Nitrogen Fixation Conference (ENFC), which will be held 18-21 August 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden at the München Bryggeriet.

WARNING: A Fake International Conference on Nitrogen Fixation, ICNF London.


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Latest news

Title Summary
Genetic diversity and genetic component associated with high Nitrogen fixation in indigenous rhizobia nodulating soyabean in South Kivu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

After her MSc within N2Africa Bintu Nabintu Ndusha is enrolled for PhD at University of Nairobi since 2016 and is working under the supervision of Prof. Shellemia Keya and Richard Onwonga of UoN, Dr Leon Nabahungu of IITA and Prof. Gustave Nachigera from her home institute, Université Evangelique en Afrique. ...

Photo: Bintu Ndusha performing a gel electrophoresis to check DNA quality of rhizobia isolates form D.R.Congo in BecA-ILRI molecular laboratory

Assessment of the impact of improved cowpea varieties on women farmers in southern part of Borno State, Nigeria

I examined the impact of improved cowpea technology on  women farmers which was introduced by the Promoting Sustainable Agriculture in Borno State, (PROSAB), project  which was implemented from 2004 to 2009 in Southern Part of Borno State, Nigeria. The specific objectives were to identify the changes in income as a result of using improved cowpea varieties by the respondents, analyze the impact of the improved technology on the food security status of the respondents and identify the constraints associated with the use of improved cowpea varieties. ...

Phylogenetic multilocus sequence analysis of indigenous Rhizobia nodulating cowpea in Nigeria

The promiscuity ability of cowpea enables it to form nitrogen-fixing root nodules with diverse symbiotic bacteria. It is mainly nodulated by slow-growing bacteria which constitute heterogeneous group of rhizobia called “cowpea miscellany” belonging to the genus Bradyrhizobium. ...

Figure: Neighbour-joining phylogenetic tree based on 751 bp concatenated sequence of glnll and recA showing taxonomic relationships of the strains. Strains isolated in the present study are shown in boldface and type strains are indicated by superscript “T”. Bootstrap values (greater than 50%) were calculated for 1000 replications and are shown at the nodes. The scale bar shows the number of nucleotide substitutions per site. Phylogenetic analysis was conducted in MEGA 7 using the neighbour-joining algorithm with the Kimura 2-parameter model plus Gamma Distributed (G).

The effects of rhizobial inoculation, phosphorus application and cowpea-cowpea sequential cropping system on some varieties of cowpea on farmers’ fields in Minna, southern Guinea savanna of Nigeria

The trials conducted in 2016 were repeated in 2017 to determine the effects of phosphorus fertilizer application and rhizobial inoculation on photosynthetic efficiency, nodulation, growth and productivity of three cowpea varieties and secondly to evaluate the performance of some  varieties of cowpea in cowpea-cowpea sequential cropping system on three farmers’ fields in Minna, southern Guinea savanna of Nigeria. ...

Figure: Effect of phosphorus application on the performance of cowpea

Phylogeny of rhizobia nodulating common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) in Ethiopia

Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is an important food legume and is a main source of protein, hence its nickname ‘poor man’s meat’ (Broughton et al. 2003). It plays a vital role in agriculture by associating with rhizobia and fixing atmospheric N2 through a biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) process. ...

Figure: Only a section of the Neighbour-joining phylogeny of MLSA

Understanding the influence of barriers on smallholders’ perception and adoption of legume technologies in Ethiopia: A qualitative study

Studies on adoption of new products, services and technologies by smallholders mainly look into barriers affecting adoption and application of Rogers’ innovation adoption theory (Rogers, 1983). Following the case study research methodology, I studied qualitatively the interaction between adoption barriers and smallholders’ perceptions to develop a detailed understanding on how different barriers have an impact on different adoption perceptions following Rogers’ adoption theory and thereby know smallholders’ decision to adopt. ...

Perceptions of livestock traders and fatteners on the use of grain legume residues in northern Ghana

Grain legume residues (GLRs) are among the main feed resources used by livestock producers in northern Ghana, especially during the dry season. GLRs are preferred to cereal residues as livestock feed because of their relatively higher nutrient levels. ...

Legume-maize rotation or relay? Options for ecological intensification of smallholder farms in the Guinea savanna of northern Ghana

In this Podcaster, I present a short summary of my third paper recently published in Experimental Agriculture: Kermah, M., Franke, A.C., Ahiabor, B.D.K., Adjei-Nsiah, S., Abaidoo, R.C., & Giller, K.E., (2018). Legume-maize rotation or relay? Options for ecological intensification of smallholder farms in the Guinea savanna of northern Ghana. Experimental Agriculture, 1–19. ...


Recently, we submitted a paper to the Nutrition Journal on the current and potential role of grain legumes on protein (both quantity and quality) and micronutrient adequacy of the diet of rural Ghanaian infants and young children. We collected dietary intake data with repeated quantitative multi-pass 24-hour recall method ...

Photo: Waiting for measurements in Bawku West district

Exploring options to enhance biological nitrogen fixation and yield of soyabean and common bean in smallholder farming systems in Rwanda

After my last PhD updates, a paper was published in the N2Africa Special Issue of Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment as Rurangwa, E., Vanlauwe, B., Giller, K.E., 2018. Benefits of inoculation, P fertilizer and manure on yields of common bean and soyabean also increase yield of subsequent maize. ...

Figure: Climbing bean grown: (A) with no inputs added, and (B) with inputs added at Muko village

Diversity of soyabean root nodule bacteria recovered from Zimbabwean soils

Zimbabwe has a long history of soyabean breeding programmes that have developed many improved soyabean varieties with various disease tolerances; and high yields, up to 5t/ha. Soyabean can depend on symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF) with root nodule bacteria for their entire nitrogen requirements. ...

Participatory approaches to diversification and intensification of crop production on smallholder farms in Malawi

This is the title of the PhD thesis that I will be defending on 12th September 2018. It was a challenging year combining the last stretch of the PhD with a busy job, but I am glad to report progress. ...

Photo: Figure 1. Exceptionally good yields were achieved on the demo-sites.

Former PhD students

Follow up on professional activities of the PhD students that already graduated: Dr Amaral M. Chibeba, Dr George Mwenda and Dr Esther Ronner.

Former MSc students

This article gives updates on what has happened to fifteen of the students who studied through N2Africa. The seventy reports now on the website are not all from different students as some did both internship and thesis within N2Africa.

Photo: Eva Thuijsman during her MSc research

European nitrogen fixation conference

We (Comfort and Ashenafi) had the opportunity to participate in a 13th European Nitrogen Fixation Conference and a side by side Satellite Workshops from 18-21 August 2018 at München-Bryggeriet in Stockholm, Sweden. We presented our works by a poster (Ashenafi) and pitch speech (Comfort) at the Conference.

Photo: Ashenafi at his poster with Comfort

Reports and other output uploaded on the N2Africa website 18
N2Africa publication

Variations in seed and post-harvest residue yields and residues quality of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) as a ruminant feedstuff. 2018. Dejene, M., Dixon, M.B.,  Duncan, A.J., Wolde-meskel, E., Walsh, K.B., McNeille, D.

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