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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I open this Podcaster with a plea – PLEASE, PLEASE send us an email to confirm you would like to receive news from N2Africa! Due to the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) we need your permission before we can send you our newsletter. All we need is a quick email confirming your agreement to receive the Podcaster from us.  ...

Beans in Rwanda. Photo credit Ken Giller


A Golden Anniversary for the N2Africa Podcaster – the 50th Edition! To celebrate we decided to ask for N2Africa staff to select one past article that for them exemplified the N2Africa approach or highlighted a particular key learning. As you read through I think you will agree it is a rich harvest that demonstrates the scientific excitement and the amazingly broad reach of N2Africa across the 11 countries. Currently we are busy finalising the annual report for 2017 which will be the topic of our next Podcaster, but for now we hope you will enjoy reflecting on what we have achieved over the past eight years!

Ken Giller

Key achievements and learnings available in the N2Africa Annual Report 2017

Total number of farmers reached from 2014 to 2017


A lot happened in N2Africa in 2017. As the core countries continued dissemination of technologies and strengthening of public-private partnerships to ensure sustainable access to these technologies, the Tier 1 countries focused on exit strategies to sustain the achieved results as N2Africa ended in these countries. ...


Time for innovation and change
Ken Giller had the privilege of spending some time visiting delivery and dissemination (D&D) as well as research trials on agronomy and rhizbiology in Zimbabwe in February. The season started with difficulty in southern Africa, with a ‘false start’ to the season and then a three week dry period that led to failed early plantings of many crops and late planting periods for others. Nevertheless, there was a lot to see in the fields, and legumes suffer less from the late start to the season as they are mainly planted after the maize crop is established.
Highlights of the Annual Report 2017

This article tells on Recommendations for best-fit technologies, Adaptation trials, Learning pathways and on the N2Africa impact design.

Beans in Rwanda. Photo credit Ken Giller

An N2Africa Inclusive Partnership Case Example in Ethiopia

Moving on from a "proof of concept" during the first phase of the N2Africa approach at scale, the second phase was designed to scale out the proven legume technologies using a "business led" approach. ...

Figure: Flow chart of inputs, services and grain product between different chickpea value chain actors belonging to the partnership ship case with Balegreen in Ethiopia, as highligted in the textbox

Scaling-up Improved Legume Technologies in Tanzania through the Legume Alliance

Salome Thomas from Orkonerei Radio Service (ORS) in Terrat Simanjiro Manyara on air. Photo credits  Simon Scott

During its Nov-2015-Feb-2018 implementation period, Scaling-up improved Legume Technologies in Tanzania (SILT) promoted improved soyabean and common bean technologies reaching 600,000 farming family members. 100,000 farmers started to use more than one promoted practice. This was achieved by developing a series of integrated campaigns targeting different family members with nuanced information. The results were achieved in the Northern and Southern Highlands of Tanzania through multi-media campaigns incorporating different combinations of leaflets, posters, comics, interactive radio, SMS messages and demonstration plots and farmers training sessions. ...

Private-Public Partnership improves farmers’ access to legume fertilizers in northern Ghana

Grain legume production in northern Ghana is characterized with low yields due to declining soil fertility, inadequate use of farm inputs and lack of good quality inputs including certified seeds, phosphorus fertilizers and rhizobium inoculants.

A contribution on partnerships and a success story.

Figure: Diagrammatic representation of input distribution and marketing of soyabean model

From targeting to tailoring: Baskets of options for legume cultivation among African smallholders
On the 4th of April I successfully defended my PhD thesis, entitled From targeting to tailoring: Baskets of options for legume cultivation among African smallholders, in the aula of Wageningen University. It was a day with interesting discussions and a great celebration afterwards.

Defence ceremony

Indigenous status of rhizobia in Nigeria: Does this aid its symbiotic performance with cowpea?

The success of cowpea response to inoculation with effective rhizobia strain in presence of indigenous rhizobia depends on three factors; population density, effectiveness and competitive ability of native African rhizobia. ...

Picture: (A) Growing rhizobia strains, (B) Ojo Comfort in the greenhouse with growing cowpea and (C) growth response of cowpea to three different treatments

N2Africa in the news

Article in the Ethiopian Herald: Over 50,000 smallholders benefit from inoculation technology.

My journey into agripreneurship, Borno State, Nigeria
My name is Mercy Haruna Wakawa. I am from Borno state Nigeria and I studied Food Science and Technology at the University of Maiduguri. Like every other Nigerian youth I was full of dreams and enthusiasm for a robust working career and livelihood after graduating from University. ...

Mercy Haruna Wakawa at her processing unit

Reports and other output uploaded on the N2Africa website 7
N2Africa partners develop a strategy to achieve sustainability in Tanzania

“Sustainability” was the theme of the third N2Africa Tanzania review and planning meeting, that took place on October 19th-20th, 2016 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The meeting brought together 34 participants drawn from partner institutions. ...

Picture: N2Africa review meeting 2016

Related newsletters 8
Field learning visits to N2Africa project action sites in eastern Uganda

On 1st March 2017, almost 80 workshop participants attended a field learning visit for the N2Africa and TAMASA projects. The learning visit aimed to provide the participants the opportunity of learning about the project implementation progress and through reflections, establish personal and collective learning for better implementation. Moreover, having both projects participants go together on the learning visit, allowed cross learning.

Photo: Impression of the visit to Koena Cooperative society, Bukedea District

N2Africa D.R.C.: training farmers in agribusiness

Mr. Berkimas is one of the farmers trained by N2Africa on soyabean processing at IITA Kalambo. After the training he decided to start a small business of soyabean and cassava processing in Kavumu (one of the villages of Bukavu, around 25 km from Bukavu city). Here, soyabean cultivation is common. Mr. Berkimas bought processing equipment worth 4600 US$ with his own funds. ...

Test Marketing BNF Technologies: Individual Customer Preferences in West Kenya Action Site: Status June 2017

Test marketing of BNF technologies through Kenya’s One Stop Shop network continues. In this report we examine the purchasing preference of 179 customers at 14 shops in advance of the 2017 long rains growing season. Three BNF technology products: BIOFIX inoculant, Sympal fertilizer and Saga soyabean, were provided to shop operator in return for keeping a detailed log of customers and their purchases. ...

Figure: Purchases of 179 individual test-marketed customers


Strides in inoculant production and distribution in Malawi - the story of AISL

Prior to 2015, awareness of the advantages of soyabean inoculation was created among farmers in Malawi by N2Africa, but soyabean inoculant remained largely unavailable to farmers. Inoculant production was mostly limited to research (with only a few hundred sachets being sold to farmers) through the government’s Department of Agriculture Research Services (DARS). This public institution was unable to scale its production to meet the inoculant demand. This was the situation until 2015, when Agro-Input Suppliers Limited (AISL) stepped in ...

Photo: AISL Laboratory under construction in Kanengo Lilongwe. The expected completion date is January 2018 and ready for use in March 2018.

N2Africa experiences: Mozambique

Towards the end the N2Africa project focused on scaling out the legume technologies proven under Phase I using a “business-led” approach. This involved engaging government, development organizations, and the private sector, creating awareness on N2Africa technologies and approaches, and facilitating dissemination campaigns. ...

Photo: Maria Miguel Noe now provides seeds to her community. Photo credits Wilson Leonardo

Knowledge to reach greater heights in Rwanda

Mr. Celestine as part of a farmer group called TWIZERANE started to work with N2Africa in 2010. Until this time, his group was only able to grow crops using traditional methods. ...

Photo: Mr. Gashirabake Celestine holding his certificate

Harnessing N2Africa’s nurtured talents among lead farmers for cost-effective technology dissemination in Zimbabwe
As we move into the last year of active farmer engagement, the research team in Zimbabwe has begun tapping into a large knowledge base that has been built by N2Africa in the last 8 years. Informed by ‘if we do what we have always done, we will get what we have always got’, we recently innovated our dissemination and training approach over the recent post-harvest period (May - October) for our nutrition and marketing initiatives.

Picture 4. Measuring ingredients for nutritional porridge in Hwedza District

On Public Private Partnerships and how they can learn about ‘The Market’

N2Africa proudly takes stock of the strategic partnerships established to scale out and sustain its promoted services and technologies. Being implemented in 11 countries, N2Africa sealed 86 comprehensive partnerships with public and private organizations reaching 222,850 farmers in 2015-16 and aiming towards 550,000 in 2018. The partnerships are linked to value chain projects with similar objectives, leveraging resources and creating synergies. In this article we describe how partners view the benefits of partnerships, the various market models used in partnerships and the main challenge different legume value-chain partners encounter: how to generate sufficient supply of produce for a market based approach. Using one specific example, we disentangle the factors that determine supply by farmer cooperatives. ...

Left: Ethiopia PPP Poster

MALAM ISAH WAKILI: An Enthusiastic Cowpea Farmer from Nigeria

It started some time ago in 2012 when the N2Africa project Nigeria extended its dissemination activities to Niger State located in the North Central Zone of Nigeria. There, the campaign was further devolved to Shiroro Local Government Area (LGA) where Malam Isah Wakili lives with his family, in a community called Gwagwa which is largely dominated by the Gwari tribe. ...

Right: Malam Isah’s household and other neighbours who are often nourished by legume recipes

From field to feedback, an update on data flows within N2Africa

Learning plays a central role in N2Africa. The success of our dissemination approaches depends on the ability to determine what works, where how and for whom and to adapt activities accordingly. Key to this process of learning, is a system of data collection, management and delivery that ensures that data is captured from the field and converted into an accessible form as quickly and accurately as possible. N2Africa has worked hard to establish such a system and we are happy to report on recent progress and future plans for improvement.

Our data flows are organized in the following way: our partners use paper survey forms to collect data from the field. ...

Figure: Current and tablet-based data flows

N2Africa in the news

For those who read Dutch: The Belgian EOS Tracé published “Afrika ontdekt de kracht van kikkererwten”

Reports and other output uploaded on the N2Africa website 19
N2Africa publications 20
Related newsletters 21

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

This European based biennial congress brings together scientists focused on biological N2-fixation (BNF) from diverse research topics of biochemistry, microbiology, computational genomics, plant physiology, and more recently genetic engineering and aquatic microbiology.

A Fake International Conference on Nitrogen Fixation
Please ignore all adverts to this conference - “International Conference on Nitrogen Fixation (https://www.waset.org/conference/2018/06/london/ICNF)”.