All systems go!!!
It gives me great pleasure to send you our first N2Africa newsletter. Since the initial start-up workshop in January lot's has happened and the priority has been to get action on the ground with partners and farmers.

We have been very fortunate to appoint a full complement of core N2Africa project staff quickly and all started early this year. Meet the team - on the N2Africa website - led by Ken Dashiell (based in Nairobi), with Freddy Baijuka (Agronomist based in Western Kenya), Abdullahi Bala (Rhizobiologist based in northern Nigeria), Hakeem Ajeigbe (Dissemination specialist based in Malawi), Judith de Wolf (Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist based in Zimbabwe) and Mariana Rufino (Systems analyst based in Wageningen). These staff are supported by Paul Woomer (Dissemination specialist based in Nairobi), Bernard Vanlauwe who has an oversight role for East and Central Africa and Robert Abaidoo who has an oversight role in West Africa.

The Steering Committee is also complete (and gender-balanced) and we are fortunate to have such a breadth of expertise to advise us - meet them also on the N2Africa website.

Start-up workshops have been held in all of the partner countries and work on the ground is starting in phases due to the timing of the growing seasons. The fist farmers crops are already harvested in East and Central Africa, just being planted in West Africa and planned to start with the rains in November in southern Africa.

We are now gearing up our communications strategy. Please see the first results in the form of a ten minute video showing the first results from N2Africa in East and Central Africa on the N2Media page of the project website. You will also find a number of other training and information videos on the same page.

From now on will keep you informed regularly on progress. We are always looking for inputs and feedback so please feel free to contact me or the project in general through

Thanks for your continuing support,

Ken Giller

N2Africa Newsletter named the N2Africa Podcaster

In the last issue we announced a competition to name the N2Africa newsletter. We had more than 20 responses, but with some excellent suggestions. After careful deliberation we congratulate Professor Barbara Maasdorp, Department of Crop Science, University of Zimbabwe, for the inspiring name and we duly christen the newsletter  "N2Africa Podcaster"

“Black medicine” in West Africa

Thanks to all partners that hosted the N2Africa team during the late September/October field trip to Ghana and Nigeria.

Impressions from this trip, what was learned and what to focus on.

First year of the project

Looking back to what has been achieved during the first year.

Thanks to all who supported in any way and best wishes for the holidays.


This month we highlight some emerging results from East and Central Africa. It’s great to see some concrete outputs starting to show up which repay the enthusiasm and hard work put in by our partners and staff on the ground. We also introduce some of the new national staff who are working in various countries, and projects of students working within N2Africa. Read on!

Rhizobiology Manual Almost Ready
A writeshop was held in March as part of the collaboration between SIMLESA (Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems For Food Security In Eastern And Southern Africa), the ACIAR funded project and N2Africa. An international team of nitrogen fixation experts met to write a state-of-the-art manual on Rottnest Island, off Fremantle, West Australia. Participants were John Howieson, Mariangela Hungria, Ken Giller (N2Africa Steering Committee), David Herridge, Ros Deaker (University of Sydney), Graham O’Hara, Ron Yates, Wayne Reeve, Vanessa Melino (Murdoch University) and Phil Poole (John Innes Institute). Abdullahi Bala was unable to get a visa to attend but contributed two outline chapters for the manual. At the end of the week more than 95% of thirteen chapters was ready for review and polishing. It is hoped that the manual will be printed within a few months so that it can become the standard laboratory text for N2Africa.
Annual N2Africa Planning Meeting in Harare
The workshop focussed on exchanging information on progress in the different countries and on planning for the scaling up of the activities in the second year. A field visit to Goromonzi showed the strong interaction between participant and farmers.

In this issue of the Podcaster we inform you about the N2Africa Communication work stream and we report on a wide-ranging set of activities of partners in the East, West and southern Africa. We hope you enjoy reading of the developments and that this will encourage you to send in your own news items for inclusion in future issues.

The beautiful book entitled "Legumes of the World" was presented to Professor Barbara Maasdorp, a forage legume specialist from the University of Zimbabwe who came up with the name N2Africa Podcaster........ 



This issue of the Podcaster reports on results from the research work stream. We have some interesting findings showing really stunning responses to inoculation and phosphorus in some countries with soyabean, although such responses are not found everywhere. The baseline studies are now available from most countries and are providing some interesting insights into gender and legume use. We include reports from MSc students who have conducted their research thesis work within the N2Africa project. We hope you will enjoy reading some of these interesting reports - and look forward to receiving your contributions for forthcoming issues!


This issue of the Podcaster is devoted to N2Africa’s work in rhizobiology and rhizobial inoculants. While a general lack of technical and scientific capacity in soil microbiology and rhizobiology remains a general concern across the project, you can read about the ongoing initiatives to upgrade facilities and train staff, on actions to procure high quality inoculants and make them available to smallholder farmers, and to work on regulations to ensure that inoculants can be moved readily between countries. Some updates on ongoing research are also presented. Many thanks to Abdullahi Bala for coordinating this thematic issue of the Podcaster!


Introduction to N2Africa Podcaster no 9


N2Africa has a strong focus on agronomic management to improve crop yields. We start from the premise that successful nitrogen fixation and yield of legumes in the field depends on the interaction:


N2Africa develops best-fit agronomic practices for grain legumes in Africa

The agronomy activities of N2Africa are implemented under Objective 2 of the project (Select multi-purpose legumes (food, fodder, stakes, and soil fertility management) for enhanced biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) and integrate these into farming systems). In this article you can reaasdd about the agronomy work to date.



We close the year with a number of ‘good news’ items from N2Africa. As you will see there is growing confidence in our approach and ability to put nitrogen fixation to work for the African farmer. We now have the opportunity to reinforce our work in the existing eight focus countries and to extend our activities to another five countries in sub-Saharan Africa. I gave a keynote presentation at the 17th International Conference on Nitrogen Fixation in Fremantle, Australia in December that was well-received and resulted in several new offers and enquiries for collaboration. None of this would be possible without the hard work and commitment of a huge number of individuals and partner organisations. I extend our sincere thanks to all of you from the N2Africa team and we look forward to working closely with you in the coming year.

Wishing you all peace and prosperity in 2012.

Ken Giller

An update on M&E within N2Africa

Exiciting time are approaching now first full sets of results from all M&E tools in N2Africa are coming available these months after the harvests i the different countries.

Working from the idea that N2Africa is a development to research project in which dissemination and development are the core of the project, M&E provides the learning and the research within the project analyses and feeds back into the D&D (see Figure). In a way, M&E connects D&D and research.


Kenton Dashiell is moving on

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Probably most of you already know that I have resigned from CIAT and will be Joining IITA as their Deputy Director General for Partnerships. When I joined TSBF two years ago to lead the N2Africa Project I thought that I would probably hold this position for 10 or 15 years if the project continued. I even told people that this was my dream job. My relatively short time with TSBF and N2Africa has been both rewarding and challenging. In my new position I will still be involved with N2Africa and I look forward to helping this project continue to grow and impact the lives of farm families all over Africa.

When I learned that IITA was looking for someone to lead their activities in working with partners and capacity building I was very excited about this opportunity and decided to apply. The best and probably only way for us to have a real positive impact and see our research results being used to improve standards of living, nutrition and etc. is to work with a diverse group of partners.

Most of you know I worked at IITA from 1983 to 2001 and I am looking forward to returning to where I started and developed my agriculture research for development career.

Many thanks to all of you that I have worked with at TSBF and N2Africa. We have accomplished a lot in a short time because we all have a shared vision and work together as a team.

I plan to move to Ibadan sometime between March 7-15.

Best regards, Ken


The world never stands still! This Podcaster contains a number of important news items, as well as some updates on M&E, inoculant production and guidelines for co-authorship of publications.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Kenton Dashiell for all of his hard work to get N2Africa off to a flying start over the past two years, as he moves on to take up a new role at IITA. Kenton will remain with N2Africa as he joins the Steering Committee of N2Africa. Dr Bernard Vanlauwe is also moving to head up Natural Resource Management at IITA, although he will remain based in Nairobi and will continue to be involved in N2Africa in an advisory role and as a member of the Steering Committee.

I also welcome Dr Deborah Bossio to the N2Africa Steering Committee. Deborah just started as Director of TSBF-CIAT based in Nairobi. We wish her all success in her new role.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has commissioned an external review of N2Africa by Dr John Lynam, who is well known within research and development circles in Africa. This review will take place in the coming months and we will update you on its findings in due course. We welcome having someone of John’s calibre to put our work under the spotlight and to critically evaluate our approaches and progress.

The Steering Committee is currently reviewing the organisation of N2Africa and I have asked Alastair Simmons, who has been advising the N2Africa leadership over the past year, to step in to ensure continuity while we search for a replacement for Kenton.

Change always brings some uncertainties, but also opportunities and we need to move ahead. We look forward to your continuing support as N2Africa steps up its activities for the final year and a half of what we hope will be only the first phase in our drive to put nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa.

Ken Giller

Genetically modified soyabean: a viable option for smallholders in Africa?

In 2011, roughly three quarters of the global soyabean cultivation area was planted with genetically modified (GM) soyabean (James, 2012). In Africa, GM soyabean is only commercially cultivated in South Africa. Is the rest of Africa missing out on a great opportunity, or are the disadvantages of GM soyabean for smallholders outweighing the benefits?


Photo: the weed problem

N2Africa featured in Nature

N2Africa was featured in a recent article on the problems of soil fertility in Africa. To read the article click here.


One issue often raised when we discuss soyabean as an important crop for smallholder farmers in Africa, is the use of genetically-modified varieties. A discussion was sparked amongst N2Africa staff, and it came to light that Linus Franke had written a report on the issue of GMOs recently. We summarise some of the recent discussions in this latest edition of the Podcaster. Apart from news items from various countries, we also report on steps taken to expand the activities to N2Africa to new countries. I hope you will find items of interest, and if you feel your country is under-represented in the Podcaster, please send in your articles for the next issue!


Apart from our normal mix of news and developments in N2Africa, we’re delighted to welcome Jeroen Huising as N2Africa Project Coordinator based with CIAT-TSBF in Nairobi. Many of you will know Jeroen as he has worked with TSBF in Nairobi for many years on various projects – including coordinating the GEF funded Below-Ground Biodiversity project and more recently the African Soil Information Service (AfSIS). Jeroen is currently completing tasks for AfSIS and will take some well-deserved holiday before he starts with N2Africa 1st September.

Ken Giller

Julieta Mario and her mother Carlota Sabonete – Leading N2Africa Farmers in Mozambique

Julieta Mario comes from a long line of good women farmers, and manages her farm in Magige Village, Gurure Province, together with her mother Carlota Sabonete – still an active farmer.

From left to right: Four of Julieta’s children, her mother Carlota, Anne Turner, Julieta and Nelito Rosario of N2Africa Team-Mozambique



For many of us – both in southern Africa and in Europe - July and August are the time of year to escape from work and email, though for our colleagues in East and West Africa cropping seasons are in full swing. It has been a busy period of interaction with both the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Howard G Buffet Foundation as we go through reporting rounds. The narrative report that covers the main activities over the past year is available on the N2Africa website if you would like to read it. N2Africa is moving into the final year of the first four-year phase of funding, while at the same time we are ramping up activities to reach even larger numbers of farmers than in the past seasons.

We look forward to meeting many of you at the forthcoming conference on Integrated Soil Fertility Management ISFM conference ( that will take place between 22-26 October 2012. N2Africa partners will present a number of papers and posters at this conference which includes the biennial meeting of the African Association of Biological Nitrogen Fixation (AABNF) and promises to be an excellent meeting and discussion place.

Ken Giller


It’s hard to believe it comes around so fast, but N2Africa has just entered the fourth and final year of the project. How to increase the uptake of the best N2-fixing legume technologies in this last stage of the project was a major topic of discussion at the N2Africa Leadership Team and Steering Committee meetings held in Nairobi in October. This was a great opportunity for Jeroen Huising to get to know the N2Afica team and establish himself as Project Coordinator. You can read more about some of the outcomes in this edition of the Podcaster, along with a wide range of news from different countries. The first article reports of the recent conference on integrated soil fertility management in Nairobi, where N2Africa had a very strong representation. It was an exciting conference with more than 250 participants that provided an ideal forum to showcase the diversity of work conducted through N2Africa, and to learn from other ongoing initiatives. Further, you’ll find reports from the work in Liberia and Sierra Leone funded by the Howard G. Buffet Foundation, plus a report from a workshop just held in Tanzania to establish new partnerships. And of course more news items.

The next podcaster will be coming soon – ahead of the Christmas break – so please send your contributions soon!

Ken Giller


Update on the recent learning lunch in which the progress of the project was discussed.

Thanks to all and best wishes for the festive season.

Right: A slide of the presentation based on the most recent information, showing numbers of farmers reached after 3 years of activities across the eight countries

Obituary announcement
The N2Africa family has lost a colleague. Mr. G. Zargba Gaye, a beloved and humble colleague died unexpectedly after a brief illness. This sad event occurred on February 9, 2013 at the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital in Monrovia.


I’m writing this introduction from Ethiopia where Esther Ronner and I have been discussing N2Africa activities for this year with many partners in Bahir Dar, Debre Zeit and Addis Ababa. We have a ‘bridging grant’ from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to get N2Africa up and running in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. Endalkachew Wolde-Meskel will update you in the next Podcaster about our plans in Ethiopia, but to give a small taster – the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Transormation Agency have identified Rhizobium inoculant as one of it’s main priority interventions in Integrated Soil Fertility Management and we will be supporting them to achieve their ambitious goals. Read on below to learn of the plans we have developed for the coming season in northern Tanzania and Uganda. ....


N2Africa always has plenty to report – working across some many countries and regions! It’s hard to select a few highlights and although we actively solicit articles the Podcaster is formed largely by contributions offered. We are currently full speed ahead with preparations of the full proposal for a Phase II of N2Africa. As you will have read in earlier Podcasters we are expanding activities to Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, and together with Ghana and Nigeria these will be the focus countries. ...

Prem Warrior and N2Africa

This is a Special Podcaster Edition to thank Prem Warrior for his inspiration, support and friendship over the past five years. It has been a special journey for Nteranya Sangina and myself – and the many others whose lives Prem has touched. We will miss him! ...


At the beginning of June, a group of about 40 partners from diverse backgrounds met in Entebbe, Uganda to shape the proposal for N2Africa Phase II. We had strong participation from national research organisations, the private sector, local and international NGOs and other international partners. All N2Africa countries were represented. Dr Peter Ebanyat, N2Africa Coordinator Uganda and Makerere University hosted the workshop together with the local IITA office. ...

Photo: Hill sides covered with common beans in northern Tanzania


Exciting times for N2Africa! We’re gearing up for a major workshop to mark the end of N2Africa Phase I (see the invitation from Jeroen Huising) and to make detailed plans for N2Africa Phase II (as introduced by Charlene McKoin below). The first analysis of our "early impact assessment" is yielding lots of interesting insights and we share some of those with you in this Podcaster, as well as a number of other news items and updates. I’m delighted to share some articles written by our NGO partners from CADS, Zimbabwe and SG2000, Nigeria, as well as a study on the impacts of N2Africa on nutrition security of households in northern Ghana. ...


Photo: Almaz Bombey in her field of common beans with her husband Beyene Gabiso, Shelo-Abore Kebele, Borecha southern Ethiopia


As this issue was on it’s way to be distributed we learned that the N2Africa Phase II US$25.3M grant has been officially approved!!



The end of a year is always busy – and this year especially so for N2Africa. While we work on the final reporting on many milestones and on the consolidated report of Phase I of the N2Africa project, we are winding up for Phase II. Adverts for the staff positions are posted on the website – and Phase II officially starts on the 1st January 2014. Please help us to circulate these as widely as possible. The success of N2Africa depends on pulling together a winning team! ...


The second phase of N2Africa started on the 1st January 2014 and it has been a very busy time writing up reports and getting started with our new strategy. N2Africa is going through some major changes in staffing and we extend a very warm thanks to all of those staff who are moving on to new challenges. ...

On the photo: The N2Africa Field Liaison Officer in Nigeria, Esther Chinedu with her son who was named "Inoculant" – surely a first!! His parents also gave him the official name of Elijah Chinedu.


I’m delighted to report that Dr Fred Kanampiu will join N2Africa as Project Coordinator based in Nairobi from 1st June. Fred will be known to many of you already for the pioneering research he and his team have conducted on Striga control over the past years – including of course a strong legume component! Fred has been leading and managing a range of international projects – including the SIMLESA project that has a large legume component – and we look forward to benefiting from his rich experience. We have also hired for the Monitoring and Evaluation position and will introduce her to you in the next Podcaster. This means that all key staff are hired for the international positions.

More ...


We welcome Theresa Ampadu-Boakye to N2Africa as monitoring and evaluation specialist – and I’m pleased to report that we now have a full complement of staff across the project. ...

The past two months have been an exciting time for N2Africa and we have a lot to report. ...

Photo left: no manure, right: with manure and P fertilizer




Welcome to a rather thick issue of the Podcaster. We have a lot of news! The first item highlights a workshop held in Wageningen in late August to develop the detailed plans for Monitoring and Evaluation within N2Africa as well as the Master Plans for project activities. Considerable effort is being put into standardization of data collection and establishment of a database structure that will make all of our data openly accessible to all partners within N2Africa, and soon to everybody. Part of these activities involves the use of tablets for data collection that proved to provide some fun for workshop participants. ...


Welcome to the March edition of the Podcaster. I have been living in Arusha for the past five months on sabbatical leave from my position at Wageningen University, based at the IITA office in Tengeru. It’s been a great opportunity to spend some time with Dr Freddy Baijukya, the Tanzania N2Africa Coordinator and his team. We had a great field visit in January to the West Usambara mountains around Lushoto and joined a number of field days with local partners and farmers evaluating some of the field demonstrations on beans.

Photo: Farmers evaluating N2Africa technologies in Lushoto, West Usambara, northern Tanzania


Impatient for change!

N2Africa is all about learning. Learning how best to put nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in the eleven countries of sub-Saharan Africa where we work. Learning which farmers are best able to both diversify and intensify production on their land using the best grain legume technologies. ...

N2Africa is a "development to research project" in which delivery and dissemination (D&D) are core activities that take N2-fixing technologies to thousends of farmers, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) provide the learning of what works where, and why for whom, and research feedback loops analyse and feed back to improve the technologies and their targeting in D&D.


We devote this Podcaster to updates from all of the N2Africa PhDs. Some of the candidates started their studies during the first phase of N2Africa and are close to completion. Others just started their research last September and are still setting up their initial experiments and finalizing their proposals. The topics range from molecular studies with rhizobium to field agronomy, adoption studies and nutrition. We felt it was time for the next generation of nitrogen fixation researchers to share some of the excitement of their findings with you. I think you’ll agree that George Mwenda wins first prize for the incredibly beautiful photos of nodules shown below on this page!

We close with a couple of news items including a new collaboration within the EU with other research institutions. The next issue of the Podcaster will focus on public-private partnerships within N2Africa – so please send in your stories straight away.

Ken Giller


While many N2Africa staff in some countries, both in Africa and elsewhere, taking hard-earned vacations, others are in full swing of the cropping season. That’s the nature of such a broadly-based project as N2Africa – there are always exciting things happening. Fred Kanampiu and I have just returned from a visit to Tanzania with senior staff from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which we report on below. It’s always invigorating to discuss with N2Africa farmers and other stakeholders and understand their opportunities and how they are tackling difficulties they encounter. We’re very grateful to Freddy Baijukya, the N2Africa Coordinator for Tanzania and his staff for organising a full and diverse programme for us. ...


When N2Africa was invited to prepare for a second phase, our funding partner the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation challenged us to develop a business led approach. N2Africa had rapidly achieved a ‘proof of concept’ of our (GL x GR) x E x M approach - that we need well-adapted legume varieties (GL), rhizobial inoculation (GR) where needed, and that the technologies for crop management (M) need to be tailored to the local conditions (E). Above all we found that the closing of legume yield gaps at farm scale depends on the critical role of good agronomy and integrated soil fertility management to manage deficiencies of phosphorus and other nutrients such as potassium (and less commonly secondary nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and sulphur and micronutrients, notably zinc). We were already working with large numbers of farmers and had learned a lot about the adaptation of technologies to local conditions. The new challenge was to move to scales of operation and to reach farmers in numbers that we had never imagined possible.  ...


Welcome to the last Podcaster of 2015. While this is a busy time for everyone, it is also a time to take some rest, to reflect on the past year and to make plans for the coming year. For N2Africa, the coming year is particularly important as the United Nations have launched the 2016 International Year of Pulses – celebrating the benefits of legumes.

For N2Africa the most important event will be the  Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference  to be held in Livingstone, Zambia from 28th February to the 4th of March 2016. ... 


I’m very much looking forward to meeting many of you at the Joint Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference that opens in Livingstone, Zambia, on 28 February. N2Africa will be strongly represented at the conference with posters and oral presentations. The meeting promises to be a great scientific event as well as a wonderful opportunity to meet other legume fanatics and to discuss their work. We are sad to share the news of the untimely death of a member of the N2Africa community, Mr BYAMUSHANA Cassien, and express our sincere condolences to his family and close colleagues in Rwanda. ...


Since the last Podcaster, N2Africa was show-cased at the Joint Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference in Livingstone, February 28 – March 4. N2Africa was well represented; we funded 53 participants, presented 15 posters and 3 talks and led a special session on Grain legume nitrogen fixation and contributions to sustainable intensification. It was a great opportunity to get up to date on all of the great research going on around the world with a special emphasis on Africa. Also a real opportunity for networking and forging new collaborations with a wider community of researchers. Many thanks to all staff and partners who ...


I’m just back from Seattle where Fred Kanampiu, Theresa Ampadu-Boakye and Bernard Vanlauwe and I had meetings at the headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We were able to discuss progress and learnings with our two senior project officers, Charlene McKoin and Jeff Ehlers. ...

Photo: Fred Kanampiu, Theresa Ampadu-Boakye, Bernard Vanlauwe, Ken Giller saying goodbye to Charlene McKoin and Kristina Muller at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, May 26th 2016


Earlier this month I had the privilege to visit N2Africa activities in the north of Uganda together with Peter Ebanyat (Uganda Country Coordinator), Aron Othieno (Field Liaison Officer) and Connetie Ayesiga (Business Development Officer). Together with World Vision Uganda, our major partner in the region, we visited a number of farmer groups and other stakeholders.

Photo: Members of the Acinango Farmers’ Group, Apac, Uganda in their dazzling uniforms



This special issue of the N2Africa Podcaster is devoted to updates from each of the PhD students being funded through N2Africa. Dr Amaral Chibeba from Mozambique is the only student to have completed his PhD so far, although we expect several more to complete in the coming months. Your comments and suggestions on the ongoing projects are most welcome.

Ken Giller

Charlene McKoin and N2Africa

Through this Special Edition of the N2Africa Podcaster we express our sincere gratitude to Charlene McKoin for all of her enthusiastic support, inspiration and friendship over the past four and a half years. ...

Photo: With Judith Chawonza at farmers’ value addition demonstrations of peanut butter and other products, Goromonzi, Zimbabwe, March 2016


Welcome to the last Podcaster of 2016! Although a hectic time for us all pulling together the reporting for the past year – it’s also a great opportunity for reflection on all that has happened over the past 12 months. So much has happened it is hard to believe only last March many of us met in Livingstone at the PanAfrican Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference to celebrate 2016 as the International Year of Pulses....

Photo: Fred Kanampiu accepting the invitation to host the next AABNF in 2018 in Rwanda on behalf of N2Africa. The current AABNF President, Prof Flora Pule-Meulenberg, and founding member of AABNF, Prof Shellemiah Keya are sitting on the podium.



Welcome to the first Podcaster of 2017. N2Africa activities are running at full speed across the eleven countries. One of the great things about working across East, West and Southern Africa is that there are always crops in the field somewhere. Inside you’ll find some photos from field days this week around maturing crops in Malawi and Mozambique. At the same time we have national planning meetings being held in East and West Africa – and we include a report from the Uganda workshop. In Ghana, collaboration with the African Soil Health Consortium is testing some innovative dissemination methods using videos through the GALA project. ...

Image: On Christmas holiday I had the chance to discuss climbing beans with a farmer who was tidying up his stakes in Kapchorwa, Mt Elgon, Uganda


At the beginning of March we held the N2Africa annual planning meeting in Mbale, Uganda together with our Advisory Committee. The meeting was held concurrently with the TAMASA (Taking Maize Agronomy to Scale in Africa) project. Participants from both projects were divided among four groups of about 20 people for “learning journeys” in the field. This gave a great opportunity for joint learning about the opportunities and constraints of taking technologies. ...


I’m writing this introduction from meetings in Berlin – the Think20 Dialogue on Global Solutions associated with the G20 Germany 2017 – see link – and the Leadership Council of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network – see link. Although very important at the political and policy level, these high level summits seem far from the reality of life in rural Africa, although a major focus of these initiatives is addressing inequality. Last week I was in a remote part of the South-East Lowveld of Zimbabwe, discussing the problems faced by smallholder farmers in a drought-prone area on the edge of the Gonarezhou National Park. ...

Photo: Playing the game Kulayijana with local leaders and other stakeholders in Malipati, Zimbabwe


With the Ethiopian delegation

Last month I was delighted to host Christian Witt (Senior Project Officer for N2Africa at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). In addition to updating Christian on N2Africa we joined discussions with a large, high-level delegation from Ethiopia visiting Wageningen. The Ethiopian delegation was led by H.E. Dr. Eyasu Abraha Alle, Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, H.E. Ato Tesfaye Mengiste, State Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources (standing on the photo) and H.E. Prof. Fekadu Beyene, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries. ...
Welcome to this special N2Africa PhD Update. Each year around this time we ask all of the PhD candidates either directly funded by N2Africa or affiliated to the project to provide an update on the status of their work. As you will see it is a rich harvest! Two candidates Amaral Chibebe (Mozambique) and George Mwenda (Kenya) have already completed their PhDs. Amaral is back in Mozambique working as a rhizobiologist for IITA. We extend our congratulations to George who just graduated on the 14th September. ...

Left to right: Dr Jason Terpolilli (PhD supervisor), Dr George Mwenda, Dr Amanuel Asrat (fellow graduand) and Dr Graham O’Hara (PhD supervisor)


I’m just back from the 50th anniversary celebrations at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria where I was honoured to give a talk. It was a great opportunity to profile the work of N2Africa and to meet many scientists and students – in particular the IITA N2Africa team. When I first visited the IITA HQ in Ibadan in 1990 I had the privilege to be shown around experiments on Alley Cropping by a young upcoming scientist – Dr Nteranya Sanginga (see photo).

Photo: Dr Nteranya Sanginga showing me an alley cropping trial in September 1990 when the African Association of Biological Nitrogen Fixation conference was held at the IITA HQ in Ibadan


N2Africa is a large scale, science-based “research-in-development” project funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and focused on putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers growing legume crops in Africa. N2Africa aims to enhance productivity of grain legumes of smallholder farmers which in turn helps to increase income, improve household nutrition, and enhance soil fertility. The vision of success 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 improved seeds, inoculants and fertilizers, linking scientific knowledge with capacity building. ...

Photo: Field visit DR Congo (Credit: J.M. Sanginga)


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


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


In May, the N2Africa team met in Rwanda for our Annual Planning Meeting together with the N2Africa Advisory Board and local partners. This is the last year of N2Africa Phase II and the meeting was a chance to reflect on progress so far and to plan for the future. In particular we finalised planning for an impact study which is now in full swing across the N2Africa core countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda) and on which we will report in due course. You can read more detailed reports on the workshop in this Podcaster.

Christian Witt, our Senior Programme Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commented that N2Africa is ‘not-just-another-project’, ...


The urgent and continuing need for capacity building to develop the next generation of agricultural experts working across the food system is often highlighted as a major priority in high-level policy documents. N2Africa has contributed to capacity development at all levels from smallholder farmers across the value chains and broader agricultural and food system. ...

News from East and Central Africa
  • Setting the scene in East and Central Africa
  • Signing of sub-agreements
  • Establishment and valuation of the first season activities and planning for the September 2010 season
  • First responses to inoculation
  • Filming in the Great Lakes
  • The first impact after seeing the responses of soybean to inoculants
Name Competition

The name for the newsletter could be much more exciting than just ”N2Africa Newsletter” Therefore we announce a competition to choose a more interesting name. Send your suggestions to before September 1st and the best suggestion will receive a prize!

Training: advancing Technical Skills in Rhizobiology and MSc and PhD Fellowships

Advanced technical skills in rhizobiology: an impression from the training course held in Nairobi last September

MSc and PhD Fellowships: eleven students from five countries now receive N2Africa MSc and PhD fellowships

N2Africa moving to scale in 2011

Some thoughts about new challenges, "The Market paradox", access to inoculants and other inputs, research plans, training and knowledge transfer.

Inoculation increases farmers’ soyabean yields in East and Central Africa

Working with farmers to evaluate the impact of inoculating soybean seeds with nitrogen fixing rhizobia was one of the first field tasks in East and Central Africa. Farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, and DR Congo observed exceptionally vigorous soybean plants with deep green leaf color and prolific nodulation on plants growing in some plots inoculated with rhizobia which translated into increases in yield.

Results from the N2Africa baseline survey in East and Central Africa

The N2Africa baseline survey targeting 1200 households in Kenya, Rwanda and DR Congo has been completed and analysed. A comprehensive report on the results will soon be published on the N2Africa website. Here are already some results.

Soyabean inoculation responses from the 2010 season in West Africa

We are currently collating results from the first year’s research and demonstration trials across the eight countries. Here is a preview of results from Ghana and Nigeria where strong responses to inoculation with soyabean were found in farmers’ fields. In Ghana where the rainy season ended very late many of the soyabean crops yielded more than 3 t/ha, whereas in Nigeria the top yields were around 2 t/ha. Strong responses to inoculation were observed in many cases. Click title for graphs.

N2Africa communication

Alastair Simmons from UK based Strategic Communications, Project and Knowledge Management Consultancy, Taskscape Associates Ltd has joined the project as the acting work stream leader for Project Administration and Communications. Last year Alastair directed some videos to promote and explain the work of the project: and in February this year he facilitated the Annual Project Meeting in Harare. Here he explains briefly, why he believes good communication is key to the success of N2 Africa.


Research, dissemination and monitoring and evaluation teams to work together to understand applicability of N2Africa technologies in heterogeneous conditions of smallholder farmers
Agronomic trials conducted for two seasons in East and Central Africa and for one season in West and Southern Africa are yielding interesting results. This figure shows the enormous variations in Mushoma (DRC) soybean yields in the control treatments between different farmers. 


N2Africa enhancing laboratory capacity in Africa
Laboratory and greenhouse facilities in African countries are undergoing upgrade and complete makeover – thanks to the substantial investment in state-of-the-art facilities being made by N2Africa to enhance the capacity of NARS to carry out research in rhizobiology and general soil microbiology.  More details in the full new item.


Major players of grain legume value chain in Nigeria identified

Dr Joseph Rusike, the N2Africa value chain specialist was in Nigeria 17th-30th July to conduct a rapid rural appraisal for legume value chain in the country. During this period, Dr Rusike met and interacted with a wide range of stakeholders in the country’s legume value chain.

Progress in soyabean marketing by N2Africa in Kenya


Mapping the market for soyabean, making sure soyabean seed is available, designing marketing models.


Linking farmers to markets: Experiences from groundnuts farmers in Mudzi district, Zimbabwe
Change in marketing position for the smallholder farmers in the Mudzi district that participate in the N2Africa project.


Soybeans responds to rhizobium inoculation in DR Congo

In South Kivu of DR Congo, on-farm trials have been ongoing for three seasons to ascertain the response of soyabean to rhizobium inoculation and phosphorus fertilizers.


Adaptive research to understand bean production niches in Western Kenya

Western Kenya is densely-populated (on average 750 person/ km2) and the area of farm land available is less than 0.1 ha per capita. The area suffers from poor crop productivity due to poor soil fertility arising from continual cultivation without inputs.


N2Africa Nigeria hosts Bill Gates

Wednesday, 28th September 2011, was a big day for N2Africa when Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visited one of the project’s soyabean-inoculant demonstration sites in Kano State, Nigeria. Mr Gates was accompanied by Jeff Raikes, the foundation’s Chief Executive Officer, Sam Dryden, Director of Agricultural Development, and Prem Warrior, Senior Project Officer with specific responsibility for N2Africa. The team was received by the N2Africa Nigeria Coordinator, Dr Abdullahi Bala. (seen on photo Bill Gates and Abdullahi Bala)


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.


Establishment of rhizobial inoculant production factories in Africa

The possibilities for establishment of rhizobial inoculant production in Africa were discussed in detail at the N2Africa Steering Committee held in Kano and I include a short report on our discussions below. As evidence mounts for substantial responses to inoculation with soyabean in different countries, our attention turns towards sustainability of supply. A key question is: Why is sustainability of supply always equated with local production?

Legume production in Zimbabwe: An update

In the eight districts where N2Africa is working in Zimbabwe, farmers are expanding the area they put under legumes. Farmers are increasingly aware of the importance of legumes for enhancement of soil fertility, but also the nutritious protein provided by legumes and their profitability as compared with other crops that were previously prioritised in the districts.

Mr. Karambwe and his mother receiving a knapsack sprayer on a field day in Guruve



We have started exploring opportunities to initiate N2Africa activities in Uganda. To this end I met with several potential partners in Kampala and also travelled to the area around Kabale in the south-west Uganda and to Mbale in the south-east of Uganda. Piet van Asten of IITA was kind enough to arrange and host a round table discussion that was attended by representatives of various departments of Makerere University, National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO), World Vision, the CIAT Bean Program/ PABRA, Uganda National Agro-input Dealers Association (UNADA) and IFDC. We made good progress in identifying priority crops and regions where N2Africa is likely to focus and will be following up in the coming months with planning activities. Thanks to all who participated and we look forward to starting up with new partners in the coming year.

N2Africa Malawi bids farewell to Joseph Mhango

Anne Turner says goodbye to Research Officer Joseph Mhango, who will start working for the Seed Trade Association of Malawi and is applauded for having taken on far more than the tasks listed in his terms of reference.

Photo: Joseph Mhango preparing to add inoculant to soy



Alastair Simmons, N2Africa’s Communication, Knowledge and Project Management Officer and currently the acting Project Coordinator, comments on the project moving forward

Alastair looks back to the Steering Committee & Leadership Team meeting in Nairobi last May, advices on noting down progress and how to deal with the 'journey' of the N2Africa project. He also introduces Jeroen Huising.

Photo: Steering Committee & Leadership Team meeting, May in Nairobi


Monkey Business

We would appreciate some feedback from you, the readers of the Podcaster; about what goes well, what goes not so well and what we could do better in our communication. To keep you better informed about the ‘Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa’.

You will receive soon an email from the online "Survey Monkey". It will not take much time to respond to the questions and your responses really will help our understanding. Thank you.

Alastair Simmons, N2Africa Communication, Knowledge and Project Management Officer

Latest Exposure

We recently submitted, (on time!), a progress report to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As it said in the introduction, the report is, "the product of the countless hours spent by Field Liaison Officers, Agronomists, Rhizobiologists, Research Assistants and students in African fields, farms and laboratories: and a testament to the support of our numerous in country partners and smallholder farmers with which we are all privileged to work." This was our month 30 report.

We have written separately about our first progress in Liberia, Sierra Leone and North Kivu and the Ruzizi plains in DRC to the Howard G. Buffet Foundation. Here we are able to extend the work and learning of the project, with their support.

Both reports will be available through our website soon.

Our thanks goes to everyone who has been interested in and supported N2Africa around the globe.

Alastair Simmons

Honing in on Dissemination and Delivery (D&D) as a research theme

N2Africa steering committee member Louise Sperling reflecting back to the latest leadership team and steering committee meeting in October in Nairobi. Her story focusses on D&D which was one of the major subjects discussed there.

Photo: Participants of the meeting looking at raw video footage that will be used for films on the website

N2Africa representation at the Integrated Soil Fertility Management in Africa: from microbes to markets Conference, Nairobi 2012

Impressions from the N2Africa contributions to the ISFM conference in which, for the first time and all the way (from microbes to markets), the world of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) was captured in six themes: Starting with (1) advancing plant-microbe interactions we then moved to the field scale in (2) enhancing BNF in smallholders and to a broader level of (3) exploring options for intensification and diversification of farming systems and (4) identifying bottlenecks for implementation of ISFM. In combination with (5) commercializing breakthrough technologies and (6) building capacity in ISFM these themes allowed for a true exploration of ISFM. The conference incorporated the 14th meeting of the African Association of Biological Nitrogen Fixation.

Fragment of a poster presented by one of the N2Africa MScs

Impressions from the project coordinator of his visits to the countries where N2Africa is implemented

On Sunday December 9th I returned from my visit to N2Africa Mozambique, the last leg of a trip that took me to all of the eight countries where the N2Africa project is implemented (excluding those countries that are serviced by the supplementary grant). Western Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique were visited.

Photo: The women from IKURU ltd. (a partner in the N2Africa project Mozambique) sorting the groundnuts to get first grade groundnuts for export to the Netherlands

N2Africa plans for 2013

As Phase 1 of the N2Africa project comes to a close in October this year we have reviewed and agreed on work plans for the remaining period (and of course the finances). The planning of this year’s activities has been guided by what needs to be done to achieve our objectives for delivery and dissemination (D&D). On the other hand we will conduct an ‘early impact assessment’ to evaluate the success and draw lessons on how D&D of legume and BNF technologies can be improved in future. Further, we want to implement a strategy to ensure that the gains we have made in the past years are sustained. ...

Obituary announcement D.K.C. Dhiliwayo

It was with great shock and sadness that we learned of the untimely death of Dr. DKC Dhliwayo. Dr Dhliwayo, or DKC as he was known to colleagues and friends was the Head of Chemistry and Soil Research Institute (CSRI) of Zimbabwe`s Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development. The CSRI hosts the Soil Productivity Research Laboratory in Marondera that produced rhizobium inoculants that have been so key to the activities of N2Africa. DKC did his PhD on phosphorus availability in Zimbabwean soils in the Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering Department of the University of Zimbabwe. He had a strong interest and background in soil chemistry and plant nutrition, and had worked on a wide variety of projects throughout his career relating to mineral nutrient deficiencies. On behalf of the Zimbabwean N2Africa team and the wider N2Africa community, we extend our condolences to his direct colleagues and his family. Our thoughts are with them in this difficult time.

N2Africa Rhizobiology Activities at Kalambo, DR Congo

The Eastern part of DR Congo, in the Sud Kivu province, is one of the target areas of N2Africa. In DR Congo, N2Africa’s objectives 3 (rhizobiology studies) and 5 (capacity building) are led by Université Catholique de Bukavu (U.C.B.) through the faculty of agriculture, one of the project partners.

The team responsible for Rhizobiology activities at Kalambo (Objective 3) and Capacity building (Objective 5) in DRC, is led by Prof. Walangululu and consists of three trained core members to implement laboratory activities in the framework of objective 3 and one N2Africa core member to lead capacity building of farmers, while Prof. Walangululu leads the degree related training. ...

Photo: Deficiency and/or toxicity: Symptoms on soyabean at Mushinga

Dr H. D. L. (Tom) Corby, 1913–2013

We were sad to learn that Tom Corby passed away in January shortly before reaching his 100th birthday. Tom was one of the absolute front runners in research on the legume-rhizobium symbiosis in Africa, and in the world. He established the inoculant production factory at Grasslands, Marondera in 1962, which produces inoculants to this day. In 2011, Tom wrote a short history of the establishment of the factory called "The Bagacillo Legume-Inoculant". Also in the early 1960s he conducted multi-locational field trials examining soyabean variety by inoculant strain interactions across Zimbabwe and Zambia (what were then southern and northern Rhodesia). He is perhaps best know in the research world for his ground breaking work on legume nodule morphology which was the basis of his PhD. A full obituary by Janet Sprent is published this month in the New Phytologist – LINK

Prem and COMPRO

I was in a plane when Prem called confirming that the second phase of the COMPRO project (‘Institutionalization of quality assurance mechanism and dissemination of top quality commercial products to increase crop yields and improve food security of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa – COMPRO-II’) had been approved. I was again in a plane when Prem called ......

Photo: Prem Warrior during the opening ceremony of the greenhouse at Moi University (Eldoret, Kenya) under COMPRO-I

N2Africa Ethiopia kick-off

Pulses are important food and cash crops for farmers and rural households in Ethiopia. Pulses are the second most important element in the national diet, providing the principal protein source and important dietary supplement to cereal consumption. Pulses recently have regained significance as export commodities. Despite the economic and food security importance of these crops, actual smallholder farm yields are far below the potential production, e.g. 1.3 t/ha for common bean and 1.5 t/ha for chickpea and faba bean. Targeting technologies for legume production in farming systems, N2Africa is an important project for Ethiopia. ...

Photo: Workshop participants actively attending demonstrations on inoculation of seeds

Use of inoculants to improve soyabean yield and Biological Nitrogen Fixation in Malawi

Soyabean is an important crop in the farming systems in Malawi, particularly as a source of cash and proteins. In addition, soyabean has the potential to replenish soil nitrogen (N) through biological nitrogen fixation (BNF). The N fixed by soyabean can also be utilized by the component crop when used as an intercrop or in crop rotation. However, the potential benefits of soyabean in smallholder farming system are often not realised because of poor agricultural practices. ...

Going beyond PREA (Participatory Research and Extension Approach)

After two seasons of implementing N2Africa activities in Malawi, the team changed the dissemination approach for sustainability purposes. Previously, the team already worked with the PREA (Participatory Research and Extension Approach) in which N2Africa staff trained Lead/Master Farmers who in turn trained satellite farmers in legume technologies. Now, the team has modified the PREA, empowering Lead Farmers to train School teachers and students in legume technologies. ...

Photo: The Head teacher, Anthony Jere, standing next to the Lead Farmer, Agnes Nyoka (in blue clothes)

N2Africa Writeshop, Wageningen, 21-24 May 2013

N2Africa conducted a writeshop in Wageningen, the Netherlands from the 21st to the 24th of May 2013. The objective of the writeshop was to providing participants the opportunity to develop papers in small teams, review each other’s draft manuscripts and share ideas – all aimed at improving the quantity and quality of papers produced by the participants in the N2Africa project. ...

Message from Seattle

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has supported the N2Africa project since 2009. Although proven in the context of US and Brazil, the N2Africa Phase I was the first major program to prove the efficacy of nitrogen fixation to enhance productivity at the smallholder level in Africa. During the four year project, N2Africa introduced smallholder farmers to biological nitrogen fixation by grain legumes; to the utilization of appropriate rhizobial inoculants; and to improved crop management practices to improve soil health and yields of both legumes and staple crops such as maize. ...

N2Africa position announcements

Within N2Africa a number of job positions are open. Seven full position announcements can be found at the IITA website and one positition is available via the Wageningen UR website. ...

Introduction of new N2Africa coordinators

New N2Africa coordinators have been appointed recently:

Prof. Samuel Adjei-Nsiah, Country Coordinator, Ghana

Peter Ebanyat, Country Coordinator for Uganda

Endalkachew Wolde-meskel, Country Coordinator Ethiopia

Freddy Baijukya, N2Africa Coordinator, Tanzania


Emmanuel Sangodele, country coordinator Nigeria

Edward Baars, Business Development Officer for N2Africa

Joost van Heerwaarden, Coordinator Research and Data



Fred Kanampiu to join N2Africa as Project Coordinator

Fred Kanampiu holds a PhD Soil Science-Soil Fertility (Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, USA). He has 25 years of extensive experience in conducting agricultural research, technology development, and dissemination in cereal-legumes-livestock systems in East and Southern Africa, local and regional project implementation, coordination and management, including publishing, with public and international organizations. He has been involved in leading and monitoring the implementation of projects executed across countries, maintaining liaison with key partners and stakeholders in the public and private sectors, ...

Obituary Rev. George Kivandah

We received a message from Kenya Soyabeans Farmers’ Association (KESOFA): To their and our regret they had to announce that their Chairman Rev. Kivandah has passed away on May 3rd because of a stroke. He was great with KESOFA and he will be missed. KESOFA staffs will succeed his will and continue endeavouring to expand the organisation and community.

N2Africa Leadership Team & Country Coordinators gathered at WUR for Monitoring and Evaluation Workshop, 18-22 August 2014

During the 3rd week of August, N2Africa project leadership team, core country coordinators and selected partners gathered for Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) workshop and finalization of other Master Plans of the project. ...




Welcome to the last Podcaster for 2014! We realize that this drops into your mailbox when you are rushing to finish all of those urgent tasks before the end of the year. Yet we hope you’ll find some time to read through as we have lots of exciting news from all over the continent with articles from DRC, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda and Sierra Leone – where our N2Africa colleagues are managing to continue some very interesting work despite the problems. We also report on our review and planning workshop hold in Arusha in October and summarise our Master Plans. These documents share our ideas of how we hope to implement a common strategy across all of the N2Africa countries. This will allow a comparative analysis of what works where, why and for whom, which is a key goal of N2Africa. ...

N2Africa Partnerships

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

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

Evaluation of competitiveness for nodulation of Phaseolus vulgaris L. in Kenyan rhizobial strains

Beans nodulate promiscuously with rhizobia. The lack of specificity may be advantageous in certain circumstances but it generally poses a challenge to attempts to successfully inoculate beans. The inoculant strain, when applied, has to compete with indigenous strains for root infection sites and outcomes are dependent on numerous variables. In addition to identifying rhizobia nodulating beans in Kenya and assessing their nitrogen fixing potential, my research has used a dual marker system to study the competitiveness of indigenous strains against the major commercial inoculant strain, Rhizobium tropici CIAT 899. ...

Foundation Officers Visit N2Africa Activities in northern Tanzania

We were delighted to share some of the excitement of N2Africa in action with Sara Boettiger, Deputy Director for Agricultural Development (Farmer Services and Systems), her Program Assistant, Mallory Robinson and our very own Senior Project Officer, Charlene McKoin. Our visit began with a courtesy call to Hon. Daudi Felix Ntibenda, the Regional Commissioner for Arusha. He assured us that the Tanzanian Government is an active partner in all our activities in rural areas and wished us a productive visit.

Photo: N2Africa farmers at Sanya Station Village, Hai District with the foundation officers

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. ...

Right: Ethiopia PPP Poster

N2Africa Learning loops 2.0. – faster data flows with tablets

This year, N2Africa has invested in improving the flow of research data from field to data analysis. In all core countries, project staff and implementing partners received hands-on training on the use of electronic data collection forms. The new tools have been received with much enthusiasm and most data collection is now done using tablet devices. This has allowed data from the different field trials to be collected, processed and compiled much more quickly than was possible using paper forms. ...

Photo: Field training on the use of tablets in Nigeria



We are very sad to inform you of the sad demise of Mr BYAMUSHANA Cassien who was the senior researcher in the Soybean program and rhizobiology of Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), the main partner of N2Africa in Rwanda. Cassien passed away on 9 February 2016 at Butare hospital (CHUB).

Photo: Cassien In the last field tour to see on farm trials in Jan 16

Reflections after the Pan-African Grain Legume & World Cowpea Conference in Zambia - A perspective on value chain partnerships from Rebbie Harawa (AGRA)

Listening to presentations for almost a week at the Joint Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference early this year, it was clear that there a lot of efforts that are going on the African continent that are geared towards intensifying legume production for smallholder farmers in a sustainable way. ...

Pictorial presentation of efforts by the diversity of actors and factors involved in improving farmers’ crop production (Giller, 2016)


It is with regret that we announce the demise of Dr David Icishahayo, who was a Lecturer in the Crop Science Department at the University of Zimbabwe. He passed away on 20 July 2016 at St Giles Medical Rehabilitation in Harare, where he was recovering after he had suffered a stroke three weeks earlier. David joined the University of Zimbabwe as a Research Assistant in 1999, having arrived in the country from Rwanda/Burundi as a refugee.

Reflections on legume input supply chains from Louise Sperling
New legume varieties are only useful if they reach the smallholder farmers who need them—and right now our track record is abysmal. The largest seed data set in the world (McGuire and Sperling, 2016) shows that smallholders currently source <1% (actually 0.6%!) of legume seed from the formal seed sector dealers – the channel most often supported by development programs. A whopping 65% ...
Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s in Kenya

My research project has assessed the diversity and symbiotic effectiveness of bacteria nodulating beans in different agro-ecological zones in Kenya, developed a gene-marker system for rapid analysis of nodule occupancy and evaluated the effect of several factors, such as soil nitrogen, on strain nodule occupancy outcomes. ...

Photo: Effective bean nodules

Charlene McKoin in Ethiopia

I had a chance to discuss with Charlene a lot on legume value chain development, as this is an important "machine" to bring about a wider adoption of legumes production in the farming system. ...

Photo: Charlene with Dr Siboniso Moyo (DDG ILRI), Endalkachew Wolde-Meskel and Ken Giller at >4,000 m on Bale Mountain, January 2016

Mid-annual and M&E review meeting in Ethiopia

Picture: Workshop participants (partial view)

N2Africa – Ethiopia held its Mid-Annual and M&E Review meeting from October 13th-14th, 2016 at ILRI in Addis Ababa. The overall objective of the workshop was to review the implementation progress of the project, in reference to the work plan 2016, and to develop strategies for improvements. The project is implemented in collaboration with diverse partners from public and private sectors, and NGOs using different methods and approaches. ...

Tier 1 countries: First litmus test for the potential of N2Africa

Under most circumstances, ‘Tier 1’ refers to the most important or the highest priority. In the N2Africa project, Tier 1 countries are those countries in which we started the project in 2009. During the second phase of the project these countries are no longer priority countries, as the project focuses on five ‘Core Countries’. Nevertheless, the ‘Tier 1’ countries are still very important and critical to the project, since they provide the first litmus test for the potential of N2Africa technologies and approaches to continue living and delivering their livelihood impacts without direct donor support.

Uganda N2Africa Partners plan for 2017

N2Africa Uganda Annual Planning was conducted at central Inn Entebbe from 23- 25th January 2017. The workshop brought together representatives from national partner organizations including the NGOs (Africa 2000 Uganda, Agency for Sustainable Rural Transformation, CARD Uganda, World Vision Uganda), research (Makerere University, and the National Agriculture Research Laboratories Kawanda, National Agriculture Crop Resources Research Institutes of NARO), the private sector (Simlaw Seeds and Agrinet, Network for Commercial Farming and Marketing (NECOFAM), Agricultural Innovation Systems Brokerage Association (AGINSBA) -ICT Platform for extension information access (M-Omulimisa) and the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF). ...

Image: Partners during a group session for joint development of 2017 work plans

N2Africa in Malawi – achieving sustainable input supply

Our N2Africa Country Coordinator for Malawi, Lloyd Phiphira, introduced me to Fredrick Kawalewale of Agro-Input Suppliers Limited (AISL). This company supplies seed and inoculants to smallholders. Fredrick has been working with N2Africa related to input supply since we began in Malawi in 2010. Given the obvious benefits of rhizobium inoculant with soyabean and the lack of inoculant supply he saw a business opportunity and was prepared to take the risk to set up a company to produce and sell inoculants. ...

Photo: Fredrick proudly holding a sachet of Nitrofix

We have revised the N2Africa website

With so many articles and reports, extension materials and student theses emerging from N2Africa we realised that it was necessary to make it easier to find our outputs. For this reason we have revised the N2Outputs tab with clearer categories. If you have problems finding the information you need, or if you have suggestions for improvement of the website, please help us by contacting

Introducing Eva Thuijsman
As of May 2017, I am working with N2Africa as a research assistant, doing data management and analysis and supporting any kind of N2Africa activities. I am very happy and grateful to be part of the N2Africa family! However, I am not a complete stranger because I have been involved in N2Africa since the end of 2015 through my internship and thesis, as part of my MSc Organic Agriculture at Wageningen University.

Eva carrying beans in Uganda

Introducing Travis Goron

I recently completed my PhD at the University of Guelph in Canada, specializing in crop plant physiology, specifically nitrogen metabolism in maize. My previous research group also conducted work concerning smallholder cropping systems in Nepal, which captured my interest – I was able to conduct a couple of side experiments with finger millet, a very important Nepali crop.
Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to be awarded an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Canadian government to come work with N2Africa for 2 years. ...

Photo: Travis harvesting a finger millet plant for root analysis in Canada

Dr Endalkachew Wolde-Meskel represented N2Africa at the ICLGG (International Conference on Legumes Genetics and Genomics), 18 – 22 Sep. 2017, Siófok, Hungary

Endalkachew responding to questions after presenting his keynote at the ICLGG, Siófok, Hungary

Endalkachew Wolde-meskel, country coordinator for Ethiopia, represented N2Africa and presented a keynote address under the topic “Sustainable intensification of grain legumes production with smallholders in Africa through nitrogen fixation: highlights from the N2Africa project” at the biennial meeting of ICLGG 2017 in Hungary last September. ...
N2Africa DRC exit and continuation by partners

N2Africa works in two out of the twenty-six provinces in DRC: North and South Kivu. In total the project covers twenty-six action sites across various agro-ecological zones: mountains and valleys with large differences in soil types ...

Photo: IKYA/UPSKI visit the soya processing facilities at the Centre Olame, Bukavu DRC

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.
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. ...


Impressions of the N2Africa Annual Planning Meeting and field trip in Rwanda 15-18 May 2018
The former Country Coordinator for Rwanda, Speciose Kantengwa took the lead in organizing our last full team meeting in Rwanda, a country that differs from others within N2Africa by climate and geography. Country coordinators of both Tier 1 and Core Countries, Business Development Officers, members of the Scientific Advisory Committee, our donor representative, Research coordinators, Leadership team and support gathered, together with representatives from the NGO’s and institutions from Rwanda that took over working with the Knowledge after the end or Phase I. ...

Practicing with maps and partner data


Wageningen University Launches Project To Improve Food Production and Soil Fertility in Africa (the initial press release of N2Africa)
Wageningen University has launched a new initiative to improve food production and soil fertility in Africa... 
EMBRAPA, Brazil to support N2Africa

In May 2010, Ken Giller and Dr Mariangela Hungria, of EMBRAPA-Soja and member of the N2Africa Steering Committee travelled to Brasilia where they met with Dr Pedro Arraes Pereira, the President of EMBRAPA, to agree on collaboration between EMBRAPA and N2Africa.

The 15th African Association of Biological Nitrogen Fixation Conference to be held in Nairobi

Thanks to Prof Inamoud Yattara and his team for organising the 14th AABNF conference which was held from the 13-17th December 2010 in Bamako, Mali. The major constraints to implementation of nitrogen fixing technologies identified by N2Africa (indicated above) were highlighted in the final communiqué from the conference. Congratulations to Prof Nancy Karanja, coordinator of activities in Kenya for N2Africa, who will host the next AABNF meeting in Nairobi in 2012.

Activities for N2Africa in the DRC from February 2010 until February 2011

A summary of activities and progress in the DR Congo 

Ensuring of understanding the status of value chains of our four major crops
One of the important objectives of N2Africa is to work with partners in all of our eight countries to ensure that we understand the status of value chains of our four major crops soybean, cowpea, groundnut and common bean. This knowledge will be used to help plan, for example where market linkages need to be improved or where agro dealers need to be encouraged to stock specific inputs and receive training on their storage and use. The person leading this study is Joseph Rusike, on the photo. Joseph will be visiting all eight countries.
Partners of N2Africa in Rwanda
A message about partners involved and activities in Rwanda
Participatory evaluation of an agronomic trial, a farmer field day organized by Development Rural Durable (DRD)
In Rwanda, N2Africa has 5 partners, among which 1 research institution (ISAR), and 4 non-government organizations (NGOs), namely DRD, COCOF, EPR, and CARITAS, involved mostly in technology dissemination.


Gender research in N2Africa - going beyond target numbers for reaching women

The N2Africa acknowledges the importance of women in agricultural production, household food security and income. The project recognizes that in aiming to ensure long-term sustainable impact it is of crucial importance to address explicitly the needs of women farmers, processors and marketers and to develop specific strategies for meaningful inclusion of women in project activities to ensure women benefit from the project. The project team has therefore embraced the target of at least 50% women involvement in all farmer-related activities of the project, as formulated in the project proposal. Moreover, the NGO WOCAN has recently provided a report on improving the gender responsiveness in the N2Africa project.


N2AFRICA Rhizobiology Activities at ISAR, Rwanda: June 2011
The ISAR Microbiology Laboratory leads N2Africa rhizobiology activities in Rwanda and liaises with related actions in DR Congo and Rwanda.


Putting Nitrogen Fixation to Work for Smallholder Farmers in Africa: Rapid Appraisal Value Chain Surveys in Rwanda and South Kivu, DRC

Article describing the following issues:

  • Introduction about the surveys carried out;
  • Role of the target grain legumes in smallholder farmers’ strategies for incomes, food security, nutrition, sustainable natural resource management (NRM) and gender equity;
  • Production by geographical area;
  • Opportunities for grain legume-led growth.
Rural farmers display value added products at Processed Products Fair, Harare, Zimbabwe


N2Africa partners and other NGOs organized (and participated in) the fair and facilitated lunches which included traditional and new products. Aim is a.o. to influence consumption patterns, to combat malnutrition and to raise awareness of the need to eat healthy foods. Good preservation of the crop without loss of nutrients resulting from direct sun bleaching was also an issue in this fair, as was promotion of marketing of agricultural produce.  


La diffusion des variétés améliorées pour l’amélioration des condition de vie des agriculteurs au Sud Kivu
Photo article  in French (with translation): The distribution of improved varieties for raising the standard of living of farmers in Sud Kivu.


Agronomy trials in Zimbabwe: results achieved and the way forward

The agronomy trials in the 2010-2011 season in Zimbabwe did not run quite as anticipated, but nevertheless yielded interesting results. The results led to a change in planning and responsibility for the next season, as well as additional research activities.


Extending N2Africa Activities in DRC, Liberia and Sierra Leone through a grant from the Howard G. Buffet Foundation

Interest in enhancing inputs from N2-fixation legume integration into production systems continues to rise. The Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced a partnership to improve the quality of soil in Africa through support for the N2Africa initiative.

Forage legumes in Zimbabwe – a brief summary

Forage legumes are an affordable alternative feed for dairy livestock for the cash constrained smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe. Local pastures are usually inadequate for livestock especially during the dry season. The grazing quality of the native pastures also depends on the species composition of most pastures where most farmers graze their cattle. Sporobolus pyramidalis is a dominant species in Zimbabwe‘s pastures and has been classified as the worst in terms of feed quality for livestock. There is need therefore to supplement; protein rich concentrates are often unavailable and unaffordable for most smallholder farmers leaving protein rich forage legumes as the next viable option. ...

Will the dry bones live again? Insights from the N2Africa/IFAD field day in Mudzi district, Zimbabwe.

When the N2Africa project was launched in Mudzi district in the 2010/11 season, most farmers and local authorities were very skeptical of the concept of biological nitrogen fixation. Farmers who have stayed in the district for over 20 years argued that growing soyabeans, common beans, groundnuts and cowpeas intensively in the area would not be successful since Mudzi lies in natural farming region IV which has low agro-ecological potential largely due to scarce and erratic rainfall.

Kenyan Outreach Update: Breakthroughs in many areas
Paul Woomer reporting on the many breakthroughs in West Kenya: numbers reached, mechanisms used  for input supply, field experimentation with experimental inoculant strains, market access, soymilk production.


Exploring potential of tillage methods on combating mid-season drought in soybean in West Kenya

John Okoth sharing results from his field research looking at potential of tillage methods on combating mid-season drought in soybean in West Kenya, a part of the country where midseason drought is contributing to a greater reduction in yields of most crops.

Photo: John taking some measurement of soil water at one of his experiments at Alupe site, West Kenya


Towards getting more legumes in smallholder farms of Western Kenya

Margarida Simbine, a MSc Student from the University of Nairobi, testing different intercropping patterns of maize and soybean to identify the practices that maximize BNF, increase yields and improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers of Western Kenya.

Photo: Margarida at one of her experimental sites in Mumias



Malawi’s President Joyce Banda meets N2Africa

N2Africa-Malawi participated in the launch of USAID-funded project "Integrating Nutrition in Value Chains" (INCV) on 12 July 2012, an event which also marked the 100th day in office for the new president, Her Excellency Joyce Banda.

Photo: President Banda, together with the USA Ambassador to Malawi, viewing products made from soybean by the Malawi N2Africa Farm Liaison Officer, Gloria Kasongo

Biologial Nitrogen Fixation - N2Africa in DR Congo “ from despair to hope”

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation (HGBF) grant is strengthening and extending N2Africa activities in South and North Kivu Provinces of the East of DR Congo. The targeted provinces face persistent food insecurity due to poor or inadequate crop production systems, despite agriculture being a major activity of the population. Interestingly, both partner NGOs and small-scale subsistence farmers involved in N2Africa – HGBF in DR Congo expressed satisfaction, and projected a strong potential to move the agricultural sector from "Despair" to "Hope".

Photo: IITA & CDC inspect soyabeans seeds multiplied by CDC for dissemination

Exploring opportunities for N2Africa in Tanzania

After workshops in Ethiopia and Uganda earlier this year, Tanzania was the last country under the newcomers to be visited. On 6 and 7 November, a workshop was held in Morogoro, with the objectives of exploring the opportunities for extension of N2Africa to Tanzania, identifying suitable legume niches and developing a ‘roadmap’ for N2Africa activities in the country. The workshop was organized by Wageningen University and IITA, and participants ranged from government organisations (Ministry of Agriculture, Uyole and Naliendele Agricultural Research Institutes), to the Nelson Mandela Institute of Science and Technology, international organisations (USAID – Feed the Future, McKnight Foundation, Catholic Relief Services - CRS), and the private sector (Minjingu Fertiliser Company).

N2Africa-ADVANCE partnership enhances soyabean-rhizobium inoculants technology dissemination – Part 1

In Ghana, the N2Africa project primarily seeks to promote the production and productivity of soyabean, cowpea and groundnut in the northern sector of the country. Various partners engage in establishing demonstration plots evaluating the use of rhizobium inoculants and phosphorus fertilizer (TSP and/or murriate of potash) and in some cases also nitrogen fertilizer (Urea). ...

This is part 1 of a series of 2. The next one will be puclbished in the next Podcaster.

Photo: Testing whether a simple planter could sow inoculated seed without removing the inoculants from the seed surface

N2Africa-ADVANCE partnership enhances soyabean-rhizobium inoculants technology dissemination – Part 2

Second part of the article about activities in Ghana and the partnership with ADVANCE: This time about training

Photo: Farm Liaison Officer explaining the importance of nodules to the farmers

Soya production: The Mozambique Experience

Contribution describing the background, partnerships and major interventions, perosnal encounter and prospects for Mozambique.

Photo: Members of the Tirimbique Farmers’ Associations on a demo plot at a Tirimbique village in Angonia district, Tete province, Mozambique

Resignation from CIAT N2Africa DRC

Dieudonné Masumbuko Mongane – by many people better known as DD – joined N2Africa as Farm Liaison Officer in February 2010, right at the start of all N2Africa activities in DR Congo. He has always worked with great compassion with partner organisations and farmers to strive to better people’s lives. Now he is moving on to a new challenging in his career. ...

Women farmers engage in production and distribution of Soyabean seed in South Kivu, DR Congo

In South Kivu province of DR Congo, seed systems for most crops are almost non-existent. As a result, a large share of the seed being planted is obtained from open air grain market or derived from previous year’s harvest. The good news is that the situation is slowly changing. Through N2Africa, farmers are increasingly becoming aware of the benefits accruing from using quality seeds. ...

Triple layer hermitic bags is a potential solution to storage pests in Rwanda

Post harvest handling and storage of grains constitute a major challenge for farmers, especially in the rural areas of Rwanda. Especially insect pests cause major losses during grain storage. Farmers use several storing technologies but most of them are not effective, expensive or present health risks due to misuse or overuse of chemicals such as insecticides. ...

On-farm evaluation of the response of chickpea to inoculation and P fertilization in southern Ethiopia

Ethiopia is the leading chickpea producer in Africa with a share of 39% of the total production in 2011. To investigate how chickpea productivity can be increased, a study was conducted to evaluate the response of chickpea to inoculants, P fertilizer and their combined application on farmers’ fields in Wolaita area in southern Ethiopia. ...

Photo: Ibsa in one of the experimental fields

Hawassa University in Ethiopia identified effective strains for pulses

Picture 3/4. Authentication of rhizobial isolates on homologous host (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Hawassa University (HwU) has been conducting research on rhizobium-legume symbiosis for more than a decade in collaboration with researchers in universities in the Northern Hemisphere (Norway, Finland, Germany, Canada). Along this path, we have genetically and symbiotically characterized hundreds of rhizobial strains isolated from soils in Ethiopia, identified several new genospecies and named the unique ones (International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (2013) 63, 1746-1753, and google "rhizobia and southern and Ethiopia" for more information).


N2Africa Phase II

As indicated above, we have been busy the past few months with a proposal for Phase II of N2Africa. We ran a number of partnership workshops, including a workshop in Uganda where all countries were represented in June 2013, and submitted a proposal to the foundation in July. Since then we have worked closely together with our two senior project officers at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Charlene McKoin and Vi Shukla, to address a number of comments and concerns from referees. ...

MSc students doing field research in the Usambara Mountains, northern Tanzania

Planting beans at a primary school in Kikurunge, Usambara Mountains

Jori Langwerden and Elise Bressers, two MSc students from Amsterdam and Wageningen, are currently working in the Usambara Mountains, northern Tanzania. The Usambara Mountains are an important bean growing area because of its favourable climatic conditions and natural resources. However, many of the production areas are located on steep slopes which are intensively cultivated and highly degraded over the last couple of years. Jori and Elise have set up several experimental field trials within the area of Lushoto district to study the soil and plant nutrient deficiencies of common bean, and how the production can be improved with use of Rhizobium inoculation and fertilizers (especially P and K).

Five N2Africa PhD Scholarships available

N2Africa seeks applicants for five PhD "sandwich" scholarships available to start in September 2014. We seek candidates with an excellent academic record a strong commitment to advancing science to enhance agricultural productivity of grain legumes in sub-Saharan Africa and their use by smallholder farmers. All students will register for their PhD at Wageningen University. Preference will be given to candidates who are employed by a national university or research institute in the country specified for each of the PhD scholarships.

N2Africa planning meeting for Tier 1 countries in Nairobi

On April 14 and 15, a meeting was held at the ICIPE campus in Nairobi to plan for N2Africa phase II activities in the so called tier 1 countries, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda and the Democratic republic of Congo. The meeting was attended by the six country coordinators, senior business development officer Edward Baars, coordinator research and data Joost van Heerwaarden and the N2Africa leadership team represented by Ken Giller, Bernard Vanlauwe and Bashir Jama (AGRA). They were Joined by representatives of AGRA (Kiwia Abednego) and Export Trading Group (Wainaina Kung’u). ...

New Monitoring & Evaluation coordinator

Theresa Ampadu-Boakye (Mrs) is the Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for N2Africa. Prior to her appointment, she had worked as the Regional Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for Towards Sustainable Clusters in Agribusiness Through Learning in Entrepreneurship (2SCALE) Project implemented by the International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) for the North and West Africa Division where she developed and implemented a web based monitoring and evaluation system and an accompanying Project Monitoring and Evaluation Plan (PMEP) for the project. She had also worked for eight years with the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) funded Market Oriented Agriculture Programme (MOAP) as a Technical Advisor and subsequently as Senior Technical Advisor responsible for monitoring and evaluation and organizational development. ...


Exploring the use of tablets for data collection in N2Africa

N2Africa generates large volumes of agronomic and survey data. Timely analysis of this data is essential to ensure that on-going activities are properly informed by past findings. This places high demands on both the quality of data and on the speed with which it can be processed. For this reason, we have started to explore the use of tablet devices for data collection in the field. ...

Photo: During the recent Monitoring and Evaluation meeting held in Wageningen, country coordinators had the opportunity to get their first hands-on experience with the use a tablet device.

Field visit during the N2Africa Annual Planning Meeting

One of the strategies of N2Africa is to open new opportunities for poor farmers and vulnerable groups by working with other players in the legume value chain and get them aggregated and linked to markets. In Tanzania there are already field based farmer organizations emerging.

During the annual planning meeting we visited Jikuzeni Kware SACCOS /AMCOS (Hai District, Kilimanjaro region in Tanzania) ...

N2Africa-Ethiopia held its 2015 Annual Planning & the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Validation Workshop

N2Africa-Ethiopia held its second annual planning and the Public-Private Partnership Validation workshop on 21-23, January 2015 with about 90 participants from the NARS, private partners, ILRI, CG centers, representatives of farmers’ organizations and N2Africa leadership staff from Nairobi, Ibadan and Wageningen.

Figure 2. Partial view of ILRI-N2Africa Annual Planning & the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Validation Workshop participants

Options for climbing bean cultivation in Uganda – A detailed farm characterization

Climbing bean can be an important crop for sustainable intensification of cropping systems in the densely populated highlands of eastern Africa. With a potential yield that is approximately two times higher than for bush bean, climbing beans provide an excellent opportunity to enhance bean yields in areas where land is constrained. ...

Photo: Climbing bean intercropped in banana-coffee fields

Progress Report on PhD Studies Aliyu Anchau; Topic: Exploring the Genetic Diversity of Groundnut-nodulating Rhizobia in Moist and Dry Savannas of Nigeria for increased Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation and Productivity

Aliyu Anchau, Abdullahi enrolled for his PhD studies in February, 2013 on the above topic. Arachis hypogaea L. root nodules were initially sampled from uninoculated plants in over ninety (90) farmers’ fields from the Northern Guinea and Sudan savannas of Nigeria during the 2013/2014 growing season.

Figure: Percent dry weight accumulated by SAMNUT 24 groundnut genotype with the newly isolated Nigerian indigenous rhizobia strains in relation to the positive N control (10 g L-1 N applied as KNO3)

Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for Sustainable Input Business: The Case of Menagesha Biotech Industry in Ethiopia

Menagesha Biotech Industry (MBI) is a private bio fertilizer producing company established in 2012 with the objective of producing and distributing bio-fertilizers and long run vision of becoming the leading bio-fertilizer producing industry in the region. ...

Photo: Inoculant Production Process at MBI Unit

Borno’s women increasingly benefit from legume production.
In 2015 all partners and households engaged in N2Africa activities paid deliberate attention to address gender inequity in Borno State, Nigeria. Training of women on processing and utilization of soyabean was thought to be a important way to do this. The objectives of the training were to sensitize the women on the nutritional value of soyabean, build their capacity on soyabean processing and utilization into various products, empower the women economically through soyabean processing at micro level for income generation and to create awareness on the effect of nutrition on infant and young child as well as on infections and diseases. The training events attracted 660 women. ...
Field visit in Ethiopia by the Project Director, BMGF and ILRI’s Director General Representative in Ethiopia

Bale Zone is one of the target sites for implementation in Ethiopia where faba bean and chickpea legume crops are targeted under the South-East Public-Private Partnership cluster. A team of project leadership including Charlene McKoin, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Siboniso Moyo, ...

Photo: Mrs Charlene McKoin (BMGF), Dr Siboniso Moyo (ILRI Ethiopia Director) and Prof Dr Ken Giller (WUR, N2Africa Project Director), from left to right, on general discussion.

A flavour of the N2Africa Annual Planning Meeting and field trip in Zimbabwe

The N2Africa Annual Planning Meeting held in Victoria Falls on March 4th-6th focused at exchanging 2015 project wide experiences and country-specific learnings. Informed by annual country plans 2015, legume technologies studies and the M&E evaluation, the meeting gave country coordinators and staff the opportunity to review project progress and tailor this year’s country plan. The subsequent field trip in Zimbabwe on March 7th – 9th showed farmers’ legume knowledge and its use in the fields and the community.  ...

Photo: Explanation legume production by Mrs Chawonza in Goromonzi, Zimbabwe

Thanks from youth farmers Nigeria

Mr M.M. Onimago thanks Malete Youth Integrated Agriculture Training Farm Centre, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (N2Africa), 2SCALE and Hybrid Agro Business Consult HABC Kwara on behalf of the Kwara youth farmers in Nigeria.

The youth farmers are delighted for the support received. Last year, Kwara youth farmers produced 2.9 tons of soyabean ha-1, using new technologies and knowledge. At the moment, farmers are planting 120 ha of soyabean and 120 ha of maize, groundnut, cowpea and cassava at the Oke-Oyi youth farm settlement.

Fully commercialized BNF technologies in Kenya
Farmers in west Kenya enjoy ready access to commercialized BNF technologies, in large part due to the efforts of N2Africa and its strategic partnership with both the private sector and the WeRATE network of farmer associations. Commercial partnership with MEA Fertilizers Ltd. has led to the manufacture and distribution of BIOFIX legume inoculant and blending of Sympal, a fertilizer specifically designed for symbiotic legumes. ...
Exploring the genetic diversity of groundnut-nodulating rhizobia in moist and dry savannas in Nigeria for increased symbiotic nitrogen fixation and productivity

The aim of my study is to unravel the types, nature, genetic diversity and effectiveness of groundnut-nodulating rhizobia existing in different soil types of the moist; northern Guinea (NG) and dry; Sudan (S) savannas of Nigeria, with a view to identify strains that hold promise for improved symbiotic N2-fixation, productivity and soil fertility. ...

Figure: combined performance of selected novel Nigerian indigenous rhizobia strains in both northern Guinea and Sudan savannas of Nigeria ...

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

Highlights from N2Africa in Rwanda

Picture: Participatory evaluation of technologies

Rwanda was among the first countries where N2Africa activities started, early at the beginning of the project. Already in February 2010, the first hundred farmers were testing the soyabean technology called “need to inoculate”. Each farmer was hosting four plots, with two plots inoculated and two plots not inoculated. The results confirmed the need to inoculate soyabean. From then, N2Africa dissemination packages of soyabean included inoculants.
At the end of Phase I, more than 20,000 households from five districts of Rwanda had been reached with direct dissemination packages of legumes technologies, precisely soyabean and common bean.


Multi-country study describes the distribution inoculation response across Africa

The many on-farm trials implemented by N2Africa over the last six years provide a wealth of information on input responses across sub Saharan Africa. In a recently submitted study on soyabean we report on the patterns of inoculation response observed in a dataset of more than 2,000 trials, implemented in ten countries over six years. This study represents the largest effort so far to quantify the effect of inoculation as well as the variability in response at the plot and field level. ...

Figure: Cumulative distribution of predicted field-level responses (black) and observed responses at the experimental plot level (grey). Vertical dashed lines indicate the 25 kg ha-1 and 180 kg ha-1 points. The vertical dashed line marks the 50th percentile.

A flavour of the N2Africa Annual Planning Meeting and field trip in Uganda

The N2Africa Annual Planning Meeting, held in Mbale from February 25th to March 3rd, focused on exchanging learnings and experiences throughout all countries in N2Africa over the past year, and gave the opportunity to tailor the planning for the remaining years in the project. For the Tier 1 countries that is only 9 months from the meeting onward and for the Core countries there are still 2 years to go. ...

Photo: Interactions during the planning sessions

A woman business in Rwanda

This story highlights the testimony of Mukakayonde Claudine, a woman from Mareba Sector, Rango Cell, Bugesera District. She is 47 years old, married to Manassé and they have six children. Her life has changed due to N2Africa project. It is told en French and summarized in English

Photo: Claudine et son mari Manassé

A farmer with an open mind in Nigeria

Clement Hange with the MARKETS II Communication Officer

For over sixty years, Mr. Clement Hange has been a farmer in his community of Mbanor in Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State, Nigeria. All that time he was happy with the returns he got from his farming efforts. However, when he got selected as a lead farmer to take care of a demonstration plot for his farmer group ‘Hange Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society Ltd’, he changed his mind on how he had been farming soyabean for over two decades. ...
Response of groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) varieties to rhizobia inoculation in the Sudan and northern Guinea savannas of Nigeria
Field trials were conducted in 2015 and 2016 seasons to evaluate the response of groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) varieties (KAMPALA, KWANKWASO, SAMNUT 21, SAMNUT 23, SAMNUT 24, and SAMNUT 25) to rhizobial inoculation treatments (rhizobium strains NC 92, SBG 234, MJR 518, WDL 129, +N (20 kg N ha-1), and -N (Control)) in the Sudan and northern Guinea savannas of Nigeria. ...
Figure 1: Interaction effect of groundnut variety and rhizobia inoculation on haulm yield
Interaction effect of groundnut variety and rhizobia inoculation on haulm yield

Presenting my nutrition research within N2Africa at the International Congress of Nutrition
In the previous Podcaster I shared some of my recent results of my PhD research with regard to our dietary gap assessment in Northern Ghana. I was offered the opportunity to also present these results at the International Congress of Nutrition which was held in Buenos Aires in Argentina from 15 to 20 October 2017. This large international congress is a four-yearly meeting that’s been held since 1946 and this was the 21st edition. It addressed a wide range of topics related to human nutrition, including agriculture and human nutrition. ...

Ilse de Jager presenting

Partner PAD and N2Africa
PAD (Programme d’Appui au Developpement Durable) is a Congolese NGO that was established in 2001. It is based in Bukavu in the eastern part of the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC). PAD has a professional staff specialized in rural areas, dissemination of innovative agricultural technologies, and cooperative movement. Globally, PAD aims for sustainable improvement of the socio-economic status of rural populations in eastern DRC. ...
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

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

A flavour of the N2Africa Annual Planning Meeting in Rwanda

N2Africa is approaching the end of Phase II for the core countries while the Tier 1 countries phased out at the end of 2017. The N2Africa Annual Planning Meeting held in the Grand Legacy Hotel in Kigali (15-18 May) focused on exploring opportunities for Core and Tier 1 countries to continue their catalytic roles in providing technical backup to other projects and to stimulate diffusion of N2Africa technologies. Discussions were centred around the question “how can N2Africa reach 80% of the farmers who would benefit from N2Africa technologies?”. ...

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

Capacity Building and Training
  • Capacity Building and Strengthening in Biological Nitrogen Fixation (BNF)
  • Training of Master Farmers
  • Frontiers in Nitrogen Fixation Training (Link)

Rust resistant varieties of soyabean bred by Seed Co in Zimbabwe

The most recent released and pre-release varieties of soyabean bred by Seed Co show very good rust tolerance that results in no yield loss!!

Call for news items for the N2Africa Podcaster

We plan to bring out N2Africa Podcaster on a trial basis each month in 2011: but that depends on you! Please send in your news items – by the end of third week each month - so we can include them in the next edition!

Trying to understand how farmers grow beans in Rwanda

Moritz Reckling shares some experiences of the first four months of his MSc research in Rwanda.

Picture: Farmer Mumyakabaya Joseph with Moritz Reckling, in front of his climbing bean field in Northern Rwanda.

Zimbabwe farmers growing soybean
During February Professor Paramu Mafongoya lead a group of N2Africa team members to several different project sites in Zimbabwe to meet farm families that are participating in our project. Many families were growing soybean for the first time even though they had seen it produced by other farmers. Most were very impressed with the excellent growth and lack of disease and insect problems. The main concern of farmers in Zimbabwe is to have an accessible market for their soya produce. In addition, farmers want to know how to use soybean for consumption in their households.
Rapport de la formation sur les droits de la femme en matiere d’acces a la propriete fonciere et aux autres ressorces liees a la terre, par COCOF dans le cadre du projet N2Africa

Sur la position de la femme rwandaise.

(2 versions: original version in French, translated into English)


Detailed farm characterisations to explore the adoption potential of grain legumes in Malawi

In this MSc research by Greta van den Brand, legume technology niches were identified through detailed system characterization, with the use of a farm typology to deal with the large diversity in smallholder farms. The results of farm characterizations, covering diverse farm types in Mchinji and Salima district in central Malawi, were used to gain insights in the possibilities of legumes to improve nutrition, livelihoods and soil fertility.


Legume Inoculant Technology and Quality Control Procedures Workshop
A workshop on Legume Inoculant Technology and Quality Control (QC) procedures was held at the Microbial Resources Centre Laboratory (MIRCEN) in the Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology (L.A.R.M.A.T.), University of Nairobi (UoN; Kabete Campus) from July 4th to 22nd, 2011. The training was co-funded by the N2Africa Project and SIMLESA (Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa) with the focus to provide participants with the latest ideas and techniques in manufacturing Rhizobium inoculants and in QC testing procedures required in achieving high quality legume inoculants.


N2Africa participates in the eighth National Agriculture Fair

At the fair with the theme 'Value Addition for Increased Economic Returns’ N2Africa showed food, plants and booklets. The second day, farmers could learn more about availability of different soyabean varieties, and preparation of grain legume foods.


Promoting market linkages between N2Africa farmers and legume buyers in Malawi
Improvement of  farmer-market linkages has been promoted via N2Africa Linking up with a CIAT and IFAD funded project. An assessment on market linkages is conducted by CIAT in collaboration with IITA. 


Response to WOCAN report ‘Enhancing gender responsiveness in Putting Nitrogen to Work for Smallholder Farmers in Africa (N2Africa)’

Response to the WOCAN report on enhancing gender responsiveness in the N2Africa project.

Gender research in N2Africa - going beyond target numbers for reaching women

The N2Africa acknowledges the importance of women in agricultural production, household food security and income. The project recognizes that in aiming to ensure long-term sustainable impact it is of crucial importance to address explicitly the needs of women farmers, processors and marketers and to develop specific strategies for meaningful inclusion of women in project activities to ensure women benefit from the project. The project team has therefore embraced the target of at least 50% women involvement in all farmer-related activities of the project, as formulated in the project proposal. Moreover, the NGO WOCAN has recently published a study on improving the gender responsiveness in the N2Africa project.

Inoculation and staking systems of climbing bean in Kenya
Climbing bean is one of the legumes under study in Kenya. In contrast to bush beans commonly grown by farmers, climbing beans are higher yielding, have a longer growing period and require support.


Supplementary Grant to N2Africa from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

N2Africa is a learning grant through which we hope to deliver technologies for enhancing nitrogen fixation in grain and forage legumes in farmers’ fields to contribute to improved livelihoods. As illustrated in the diagram below – dissemination and delivery (D&D) form the core of the project activities. M&E provides the data on D&D that allows us to research the underlying reasons for performance of technologies, or for adoption by farmers, and the overall impacts of the N2Africa project. Thus we like to refer to N2Africa as a “development to research project” rather than a research for development project.



N2Africa – Guidelines for Co-authorship of Publications

N2Africa is producing many types of publications in the form of training materials, milestone reports, other internal reports and, of course, articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals. We have developed some guidelines for authorship particularly with journal articles and book chapters in mind, but may be useful when thinking of other types of publications. Our aim is to ensure that credit is duly given to those who have contributed to particular pieces of work. Please regard these guidelines as opportunities rather than restrictions. If somebody is to be a coauthor of your paper, then it is appropriate to expect and ask for substantial help in preparing it. The full document, which was discussed and endorsed by the N2Africa Steering Committee, can be accessed here.

Ken Giller

Greta van den Brand joined the N2Africa team in Wageningen

Greta van den Brand has joined the N2Africa team at Wageningen University in January. She works primarily on the extension of the N2Africa project to Sierra Leone, Liberia and North Kivu in DR Congo through the extension of the project as part of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Besides, she contributes to on-going research activities in the other N2Africa countries. Greta completed an MSc. in sustainable development, with a focus on land-use and environment related topics. Her past research, carried out as a master thesis within the framework of N2africa, focused on possibilities for smallholder farmers in Malawi to increase production of grain-legumes.

Greta van den Brand


George Mkhwamba – One of N2Africa’s Leading Farmers in Malawi

When the Agricultural Extension Officer from the Department of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES) in Salima resigned last year, Mr. George Mkhwamba began to coordinate all the N2Africa activities with his fellow Lead Farmers in the area. He did this at his own initiative and voluntarily. He leads Tipindule, a club of 24 farmers growing soyabean and on top of that he is visiting all the other Lead Farmers and their groups to ensure that everyone understands and uses the N2Africa technologies in their legume cultivation. ...

N2Africa research meeting – Zimbabwe
On Friday the 18th of May, N2Africa Zimbabwe organized a half-day meeting in Harare, facilitating a comprehensive exchange of N2Africa research experiences within Zimbabwe. Research within N2Africa is intrinsically linked to the D&D efforts and vice versa. Nevertheless it was felt that it would be beneficial to have a focussed research meeting first, before re-engaging with D&D.


N2Africa complementing “One Cow for Poor Family” Program in Rwanda

Under ‘One Cow Per Poor Family’ program the poor and vulnerable families, including genocide survivors, widows, orphans, people with disabilities and people living with HIV/AIDS, are acquiring productive assets in the form of a dairy cow or dairy goat. These groups are also provided with an integrated package of assistance, starting with participatory training that strengthens the social structures and gender equity. At the same time the groups are given in-depth training in sustainable organic agriculture, concentrating on vegetables, maize and beans for human consumption.


News from DRC

Formation des ménages dans la transformation du soja en lait et cakes pour la nutrition familiale à Ihimbi.

Visite des essais lors de la journée champêtre organisée la saison B 2012 à Mushinga par le partenaire DIOBASS.

Adoption des technologies N2Africa.

Article in both French and English



It was worth the ride: A Transcription of Partner’s Visit to N2Africa Liberia Project Site

Dr. John Fitzsimons telling about his visit to the N2A legume trial in Lofa County", in the northeast of Liberia, during the rainy season.





N2Africa project offers hope for Sierra Leone farmers

Something beyond the traditional farming experience in Sierra Leone is being introduced to let farmers benefit from grain legume crops. The common practice upon which the farming of these crops had been centred lacked maximum productivity and did not focus on nutritional and economic values. With the introduction of the N2Africa Project, however, those setbacks and disadvantages will soon become an experience of the past.

Legumes varietal selection is critical for effective marketing: Case study for Mudzi and Guruve districts of Zimbabwe

The project has been running for two seasons in Zimbabwe. The farmers have gained some commendable knowledge and have benefitted from the technologies. ...

Photo: Here farmers are bringing their produce to the central collection point- notable absence of infrastructure for storage (Picture by Byron Zamasiya)

N2 Africa starts activities in Uganda

A follow-up workshop was conducted at Makerere University on 4th February 2013 to identify partners and to agree on start up activities for the N2Africa Project in Uganda. Participants at the workshop were research and development organizations including the Namulonge Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCCRI) and National Semiarid Agricultural and Animal Research Institute (NaSAARI) of National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC), Africa 2000 Network Uganda (A2N), VECO East Africa, Soyabean Products International, World Vision Uganda and the Department of Agricultural Production and Soyabean breeding and Seed Systems Project of Makerere University. ...

Planting time: a crucial management decision for the cultivation of soyabean in the humid tropics

In many regions where N2Africa works, farmers need to plant soyabean at the beginning of the growing season in order to have a mature crop by the time the rains cease. The humid tropics covering most of Sierra Leone and Liberia however are blessed with a rainy season of at least 7 months ....

Fig. : Soyabean grain yield as affected by planting time in three agro-ecological zones in Sierra Leone. Average of two varieties (TGx 1448-2E and TGx 1904-6F); error bars indicate standard errors of means

MFAGRO Farmers: A Stronger Voice in Vihiga County, Kenya

The goal of MFAGRO is to bring new technology to its members and the farmers of Vihiga County, Western Kenya. We recognize the N2Africa Program and its partners CIAT, MEA Ltd. and Promasidor for assisting our group toward that end over the past year (2012) and we look forward to working with you during 2013. ...Photo: Farm inputs and soyabean products on display during the Provincial Agricultural Show in Kakamega, Western Kenya (Photo Dick Morgan Ongai)

Activités de diffusion en masse et approche agriculture-élevage dans N2Africa au Sud Kivu

Les activités de diffusion en masse en RDC regroupent des journées champêtres, des visites d’échange, la journée internationale de la femme, ainsi que des émissions radio t. Elles sont organisées par les ONG partenaires tel que PAD, DIOBASS et SARCAF. Ce sont des moments de partage d’expériences et des occasions d’enrichissement mutuel. ...

Large-scale dissemination activities and integrated crop – livestock systems in N2Africa, South Kivu (translation of the French article above)

The dissemination activities in DRC consist of various types, of which the large-scale dissemination activities (field days, exchange visits, international women’s day, radio broadcasts, etc.), organised by the NGO partners PAD, DIOBASS and SARCAF, are moments of sharing experiences and an opportunity for mutual enrichment. ...

CRS convene stakeholders in soyabean sub-sector to discuss soyabean variety and seed issues in Tanzania

The Catholic Relief Services (CRS), through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) -funded Soya ni Pesa Project is supporting small holder farmers in Southern highlands (Ruvuma and Njombe regions) of Tanzania to grow soyabean. ...

Photo: Participants of CRS-consultative meeting held in Dar es Salaam to deliberate on ways to improve the availability of soyabean seeds in Tanzania

Characterization reports Tanzania and Ethiopia available

As background documents for the new countries Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda characterization reports have been written with information on agronomy, farming systems and ongoing projects on grain legumes in the different countries. ...

Rounding up Phase I of N2Africa, Hilton Nairobi, 4 November 2013

On November 4th, 2013, we welcome, at the Hilton Nairobi, the steering committee, our partners and stakeholders to the round-up event of the first phase of N2Africa. Four years ago, N2Africa embarked on a mission to put nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa. Now, we are ready to present the results from our work over the past four years and the achievements of the project. ...

From humble beginnings: LegumeTechnology UK Ltd.

Following on from a visit by Dr Mahamadhi Dianda (IITA) to LegumeTechnology in June this year to learn about quality control methods, I met with Dr Bruce Knight at his factory near Nottingham in the UK to discuss his involvement in Phase II of N2Africa. LegumeTechnology manufactures high quality, zero contamination inoculants for markets throughout the world, and consistently achieves the N2Africa AA standard. ...

Photo: Liam Cooper operating the injection machine

Introducing the Country Coordinators of the Tier 1 countries

As indicated above, the Tier 1 countries are the six countries other than Ghana and Nigeria, that participated in the N2Africa project from the start. The country coordinators for these countries are, presented in the order as on the photo in the above article: Lloyd Phiphira (Malawi), Regis Chikowo (Zimbabwe), Speciose Kantengwa (Rwanda), Wilson Leonardo (Mozambique), Paul Woomer (Kenya), Jean Marie Sanginga (DR Congo).

N2Africa was officially launched in Uganda on January 16th

N2Africa was launched at a workshop led by Dr Peter Ebanyat in Kampala, Uganda. Dr Stephen Byantwale (see photo), representing the Director of Crop Resources, Ministry of Agriculture stressed the importance of N2Africa in enhancing the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Uganda and of aligning with the policies of the government.


N2Africa ventures into Borno State, Nigeria

N2Africa has been granted an extra US$5 million supplementary grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand its activities to Borno State, North-Eastern Nigeria. The request that N2Africa start activities in Borno came from the State Governor, another signal that the N2Africa story is reaching its potential clients! This initiative is aligned to a polio vaccination campaign, supported by the foundation, and will operate in a set of Local Government Areas in the south of the State, where security is less problematic (see map). ...

Update of N2Africa project activities in Ghana

This season N2Africa together with its disseminating partners is disseminating legume technologies to over 6000 farmers cultivating cowpea, groundnut and soyabean in seven districts in northern Ghana. N2Africa currently works with about ten partner organizations in Northern Ghana. ...

Photo: Farmer feedback meeting held at one of the N2Africa sites


Finally N2Africa Master Plans are ready for use

The N2Africa Master Plans are documents intended to foster a common approach across the five Core Countries. So far seven master plans have been developed. These are Agronomy, Dissemination, Monitoring & Evaluation and Data Management, Rhizobiology, Communication, Gender and Innovation platforms. The plans are designed to achieve the N2Africa Vision of Success and the objectives set out in the Research Framework of the approved project proposal. This means all Master Plans need to ensure timely delivery of the outputs and outcomes.

2015 Annual planning workshop of N2Africa, Ghana

The 2015 annual project planning workshop took place from 3-5 February, 2015 at the Modern City Hotel, Tamale. Samuel Adjei-Nsiah (country coordinator) welcomed the participants and gave an overview of N2Africa project in Ghana. He also pointed out the objectives of the workshop and invited the partners to share their expectations.

Partner groups developing their action plans for 2015 season


Cowpea fritters a new delicacy with N2Africa farmers in Zimbabwe

Through N2Africa, farmers in Zimbabwe have perfected the agronomy of grain legumes, and they are now perfecting their grain legumes processing skills. Over the years, the N2Africa team in Zimbabwe has worked with farming communities to perfect the art of processing soyabean into different nutritious products.

Photo: Men and women participate in N2Africa nutrition activities

Genetic and Symbiotic Effectiveness of Indigenous Rhizobial Strains and Strategies to Maximize the Contribution of Biological Nitrogen Fixation on Soyabean in Mozambique
Amaral Machaculeha Chibeba started his N2Africa PhD project in August 2012 at Londrina State University in Brazil. In summary, he characterized rhizobia isolated from field-grown soyabean nodules brought from Mozambique, conducted field trials for testing symbiotic effectiveness of elite Bradyrhizobium strains on soyabean in Brazil and Mozambique and conducted a greenhouse experiment to evaluate the effect of co-inoculation of soyabean with Bradyrhizobium and Azospirillum (a plant growth promoting rhizobacterium) on the earliness (precocity) of nodulation. ...
Peter Thorne taking over N2Africa Advisory Committee tasks from Alan Duncan

Alan Duncan is stepping down from his role in N2Africa. We are grateful to Alan for his wise counsel in his role in the N2Africa Leadership Team over the past years. We welcome Peter Thorne who will take over his responsibilities for N2Africa at ILRI. ...

Introducing Ibironke Popoola

We have the pleasure of introducing and welcoming Ms. Ibironke Popoola, a Nutrition Research Associate in the Crop Utilisation Laboratory of IITA in Ibadan, Nigeria to N2Africa. Ms. Ibironke will be helping in N2Africa Nutrition activities under the guidance of Dr. Bussie B. Maziya-Dixon (IITA-Crop Utilization Scientist). She has been actively involved in the implementation of Nutrition and Consumer research activities in Nigeria, Zambia, Sierra Leone and DRCongo. Prior to her appointment at IITA, she worked as a Research Assistant in the Dutch Agricultural Economics Institute – Landbouw Economisch Instituut, where she backstopped Research Scientists in the execution of research projects in the Food and Agriculture domain.

N2Africa and Feed the Future Nigeria Livelihoods Project Partnership: A working collaboration

In response to solving some of the challenges being faced by most farming households in Nigeria, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Catholic Relief Services signed a partnership agreement that provides mutual support and collaboration in the joint implementation of N2Africa and Feed the Future Nigeria Livelihoods Projects in FCT and Kebbi State.

Photo: Participants at a cowpea demonstration site during Green field day at Ujariyo in Kebbi State

N2Africa publication: Understanding variability in soybean yield and response to P-fertilizer and rhizobium inoculants on farmers’ fields in northern Nigeria

In N2Africa we are reaching thousands of farmers in each country over the course of the project. Through collection of data among these farmers, we can get an impression of how well the legume technologies that we offer work in different areas, on different types of soils and for different types of farmers. With data from dissemination trials of farmers in Nigeria in phase I, collected by extension officers and dissemination partners (Sasakawa Global 2000, KADP, KNARDA, Federal University of Technology, Minna), we evaluated the results of widespread testing of promiscuous soyabean varieties in northern Nigeria. ...

Figure: Cumulative probability of estimated absolute response (kg ha-1) of P and/or I compared with control

Exploring variability and options for improving the feeding value of legume crop residues for ruminants in small-holder crop-livestock systems of Ethiopia

In Ethiopia where the mixed crop-livestock system is a predominant feature in agriculture, promotion of improved production technology is expected to boost grain legume production with a concomitant increase in the amount of legume residues for livestock feeding. ...

Photo: Foss 6500 NIR spectrometer used to predict straw laboratory quality traits at CQU laboratory

N2Africa key facts 2015 and learnings 2016

An overview of results achieved by N2Africa in 2015 and the issues to focus on in 2016.

Photo: Zambezi cruise. The plume of smoke in the centre is Victoria Falls or the Mosi-oa-Tunya (The smoke that thunders)

Information plus … the journey towards sustainable change in legume technologies

George Oduor from CABI explains an new approach to sustainable change in legume technologies.

The goal of any long-term development project is to create sustainable changes in awareness, attitude and ultimately behaviour. In the first phase of the Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) soil fertility projects, ...

Picture from Shujaaz

N2Africa early impact survey across eight countries

Designing development-to-research approaches that support positive changes in livelihoods of farmers require actions that are based on solid project evaluations and impact studies. The N2Africa project evaluations are based on the results framework and distinguish results on activities, outputs and outcomes. This framework has been used on an annual basis to monitor and evaluate progress and foster learning (Podcaster 36). ...

Figure: Average change in total legume (bean, cowpea, groundnut and soyabean) area per farm (ha) per country


Genetic and symbiotic effectiveness of indigenous rhizobial strains and strategies to maximize the contribution of biological nitrogen fixation on soyabean in Mozambique

The objectives of this study were to characterize indigenous rhizobia and to identify strains that hold potential to be included in inoculants for soyabean production in Mozambique. ...

Photo: Amaral Chibeba (center), supervisors and panel members

Plant legumes heal the soil in Malawi

Almost all crop types in Malawi suffered in what is seen as one of the worst crop performances of the last 13 years. Aftermaths of El Niño have left a good part of Malawian farmers more destitute, impoverished and worried. Despite the hard times in this planting season, those farmers who planted legume crops have some refuge and have stories to share. ...


Picture: Farmers like these have experienced high yield with the use of inoculants. ©IITA-Malawi

Reflections on training events in Nigeria

A series of training was conducted for Extension Agents (EAs) and partners’ staff of Niger State Agricultural and Mechanization Authority (NAMDA) and USAID-MARKETS II in Niger, Kaduna, Benue and Kano states during the 2016 planting season. ...

Picture: Demonstration of planters to Extension Agents

MSc Internship N2Africa Review

My MSc Internship was undertaken from October 2016 to January 2017 with the Plant Production Systems (PPS) chair group at Wageningen University & Research and the N2Africa project. The purpose of my MSc Internship was to review aspects of the N2Africa project. The review process comprised of two studies, the Public- Private Partnership (PPP) study and the Quick survey study. These two studies will feed into the N2Africa project’s Annual Reporting for 2016. ...

Image: Agrochemical and Fertilizer Sales Outlet (Belongs to Mallam Bello Mohammed), Kawo Market, Kaduna City, Kaduna State Country in Nigeria

Key achievements 2016
  • Capacity strengthening to sustain delivery; ...
  • Entry step for adoption of technologies; ...
  • Last mile delivery of inputs; ...
  • Demonstrated output markets opportunities; ...
  • Entry point to reduce drudgery; ...
  • Quality control for risk-reduction; ...
  • Harvest of agronomic research evidence; ...
  • Partnerships as springboard for rapid achievements; ...
  • Systematic steering and timely learning loops. ...

Sessions countries presenting their 2016 results

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

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

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

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

Open access publishing through Chronos
Open access publishing with Gates
Open access is of great importance to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to allow for rapid and broad dissemination and for accelerating innovation. Accessible and open articles and underlying data are key for that. To ensure compliance with the BMGF’s Open Access Publishing Policy and to reduce the administrative burden of the publication process, the BMGF has developed two online publication services: Chronos and Gates Open Research. ...
Kenya’s N2Africa actions in 2017 and exit strategy
The final year of N2Africa in Kenya was committed to positioning for lasting project impact. Kenya’s N2Africa exit strategy is based on several intersecting goals. Input manufacturers and seed companies will continue to invest in legume production inputs, and expand their scope of operations, including greater incentives to “last mile” agrodealers. MIRCEN will continue to provide independent testing of biofertilizers and legume inoculants. ...
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

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. ...

Field trip: climbing beans in Rwanda

In the morning of May 17th buses took all participants of the Annual Planning Meeting through a hilly landscape to two sites in Northern Rwanda that were first approached by N2Africa back in 2010: Gahunga action site and Muko action site.

Photo: Ms. Gasilida and Mr Hakizimana Rwbasira showing varieties of climbing beans at Gahunga action site

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. ...

N2Africa Planning Meeting – Zimbabwe, 14-15 June 2010
The meeting was held in Harare in June 2010 to plan for the N2Africa project activities in Zimbabwe ... 
Training of Trainers in Zimbabwe

Two trainers, Joram Tapfuma and Tarwireyi Kahiya, trained a total of 240 lead-farmers and agricultural extension workers from the government and participating NGOs in eight districts in Zimbabwe.

N2Africa West Africa hub holds laboratory training in rhizobiology skills

The N2Africa West Africa Hub recently held a two-week training course on basic rhizobiology skills at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria.

TL-II and improved bean varieties
One of the most important components of the production packages being disseminated to farmers by N2Africa are improved varieties of soybean, common bean, groundnut and cowpea. Many of these improved varieties have been developed and tested by the Tropical Legumes II (TL-II) project. For example there are numerous soybean varieties that are being introduced to farmers that were developed by TL- II. In March the N2Africa project leader, Kenton Dashiell was in Malawi and met with Hailu Tefera (pictured) the scientist leading the TL-II soybean breeding project. Hailu indicated that in the next few years we should expect to have new soybean varieties that have improved resistance to soybean rust and higher grain and fodder yields.
More staff have joined the N2Africa team in West Africa

A short introduction to new staff in Ghana and Nigeria

On the photo: New staff from N2Africa in Nigeria. From left to right: Fatima Hussein, Joseph Abikoye and Esther Chinedu.

Field days in Malawi

N2Africa Malawi is conducting field days from the 11th February 2011 to 5th May 2011. The field days were attended by N2Africa farmers, CIAT as well (the IFAD project staff), DAES and WVI as partners, the Government Departments, Chiefs and local people. The field days act as a forum for farmers and stakeholders to interact and learn from each other on the crops that have been demonstrated.


Understanding the role of legumes and their significance in Biological Nitrogen Fixation (BNF) in smallholder farming systems of Zimbabwe

Report from Brenda Tsungai Manenji who conducted her MSc research in Zimbabwe in 2 regions: Murehwa, an area with high agro-ecological potential, and Mudzi, an area with low agro-ecological potential.



Emerging challenges in cross-border movement of inoculants in sub-Saharan Africa

Since the late 19th century, root nodulating rhizobia (RNB), commonly known as rhizobia, have been known to be responsible for fixing atmospheric nitrogen on legumes. This knowledge led to the use of inoculants. Challenges for N2Africa how to import inoculants timely in the different countries in the project are described.

Rhizobial Bio-prospecting in East and Central Africa
Article on Rhizobial bio-prospecting submitted late for the previous Podcaster (no. 8, focussing on Rhizobiology), focussing on the need of documentation of the biodiversity of rhizobia in Africa.   


Lessons learned and way forward in N2Africa’s agronomy work

The results of the agronomy trials so far have provided a wealth of information, some of which presented in this podcaster. However, the agronomy team has also faced a number of challenges and results were not always as anticipated. The problems faced so far provided important lessons for the agronomy team leading to changes in the N2Africa research strategy. In this article we share the the main lessons we have learned and the way we are adapting our approach.

New people joined the N2Africa project team in Wageningen

Three new members recently joined the N2 Africa team of Wageningen University: Esther Ronner, Admire Katunga and Edouard Rurangwa.

The photo shows Esther and Edouard discussing.


See to my strain

Although in local Sierra Leonean Pidgin "see to my strain" does not have anything to do with rhizobia and inoculation, this text on the back of a car in Freetown nicely covered the purpose of our trip to Sierra Leone and Liberia, where N2Africa is currently expanding with additional funding from the H.G. Buffet foundation.

During the first exploratory trip from March 18-23 we considered both the rhizobial and other legume-associated issues of see to my strain and what it actually means in Pidgin: see to my problems.

IITA extends N2Africa to Sierra Leone

With a grant of the H.G. Buffet foundation, N2Africa is currently expanding its activities into Liberia, Sierra Leone and north-Kivu in DRC. To kick-start activities in the new West-African countries, at the end of March meetings were held in both Sierra Leone and Liberia. The meeting in Sierra Leone even attracted a journalist, Richard Bockarie, who published the following piece in The UPDATE Newspaper of 22-03-2012.

The African Soil Health Consortium

N2Africa is working with the Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) to produce dissemination materials related to integrated soil fertility management. The ASHC contributes towards radical change in the understanding and use of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) techniques in sub-Saharan Africa, enabling smallholder farmers to improve their crop yields. We received the ASHC newsletter and share it with you.

ISFM Conference

The ISFM 2012 Conference takes place from 22-26 October. This is an excellent opportunity to highlight the work that N2Africa does, in a diversity of countries and over a wide range of topics. We encourage all N2Africa staff to submit an abstract for this conference. More information and the deadline for submission can be found on Please send a copy of the abstract to, for coordination of the N2Africa contributions.

Esther Ronner

Comment peut être la journée ordinaire d’un partenaire de N2Africa? / What does an N2Africa participant do on a “normal N2Africa day”

Speciose Kantengwa tells us about her work as Farm Liaison Officer in Rwanda. Article both in English and French.

Photo: Training of women on Soy milk extraction at household level, September 2011



Voices from the field

We are seeking to compile a collection of personal stories and narratives from around N2Africa.

Through one set of stories, we’ll profile those who work hard behind the scenes to ensure that N2Africa is a success, by inviting particular N2Africa staff to share their experiences.

Alastair explains what kind of stories we seek.

Role model farmer shows a way for adoption of legume technologies in Western Kenya

Irene Ngochi is a farmer from Emakhunje Village in the densely populated Emukhaya district of Western Kenya. Farm sizes in the district range from as small as 0.05 ha to 1 ha, with the majority (70%) of households owning 0.20 ha. Irene’s household owns an average farm of 0.25 ha. At the age of 50 years, Irene has developed a very positive attitude on planting soybean and climbing beans.....

Photo: Irene points to climbing bean trailing on one of the trees in her farm


N2Africa Project Offers Hope For Sierra Leone Farmers

Something beyond the traditional farming experience in Sierra Leone is being introduced to let farmers benefit from grain legume crops. The common practice upon which the farming of these crops had been centred lacked maximum productivity and did not focus on nutritional and economic values. With the introduction of the N2Africa Project, however, those setbacks and disadvantages will soon become an experience of the past.


Ilse de Jager introducing a new discipline into the N2Africa project

Ilse de Jager has recently joined the N2Africa project team at Wageningen University to conduct a literature study on the nutritional benefits of legume consumption at household level.

Photo: Ilse eating mungbean based meal together with the Indian schoolchildren in the TELFUN project in India, carrying out her masters thesis



Greenhouse commissioning and commencement of greenhouse work in Zimbabwe

On the 2nd of May, 2012, a commissioning ceremony for the renovated greenhouse was held at the Soil Productivity Research Laboratory (SPRL) in Marondera. The renovations were funded by N2Africa and implemented by Blackpuck (pvt) Ltd.

Photo: SPRL staff working in the renovated greenhouse


Soyabean Processing Windfall in West Kenya

One of the larger challenges to those working in program outreach activities is linking "at least half of the farming communities" to legume processing initiatives.

Photo: This state-of-the-art soya milk processor was provided through UNIDO and was installed at one of three factories in west Kenya (photo credit Josephine Ongoma)



Kenyan Farmer Delegation Generates Understanding and Good Will

The N2Africa outreach activities in west Kenya work through 26 grassroots collaborators. This team typically installs 50 BNF technology demonstrations, conducts 25 farmer field days, operates 16 grain legume market collection points and assists the Legume Agronomy team with its on-farm experiments twice a year, owing to our bimodal rains. ...

Photo: The farmer delegation visits the MEA factory in Nakuru where Sympal is blended (photo credit Moses Chamwada)

Learning from Farmer Managed Soyabean Trials in Kenya

Outreach activities continue to test new soyabean varieties, input combinations and cropping arrangements that promote BNF. During the 2012 long rains in west Kenya (March to July), two new soyabean varieties from SeedCo were compared to SB 19 (the current industry standard). ...

Photo: This former tobacco grower in Migori, west Kenya, has shifted to soyabean production using the production package offered by N2Africa (photo credit Moses Chamwada)

N2Africa Planning Workshop - Tanzania, 11-12 February 2011
A two days’ sensitization workshop was conducted from 11-12/2/2013 at The Nelson Mandela African Institute of science and Technology in – Arusha – Tanzania, to plan for the N2Africa project activities in Northern Tanzania. The workshop was attended by more than 30 participants. .....
New Autoclave installed at Legume Inoculant Factory in Marondera, Zimbabwe

As part of the investment in rhizobiology research and inoculant production in the different N2Africa countries, N2Africa recently facilitated the replacement of a 33 year old autoclave at the government inoculant factory in Marondera, Zimbabwe. ...

Photo: Front side: Zvomuya Munyaradzi, manager production facility

Targeting legume technologies

N2Africa has invested substantially in identifying the best grain legume varieties and appropriate management practices for integration into African farming systems. Variety trials were conducted to acquire promising varieties of bean, cowpea, groundnut and soyabean, comparing them to current lines for yield, N2-fixing capacity and adaptation to abiotic and biotic stresses. Input trials are conducted to assign the best-fit agronomic practices to the best varieties.

Figure 1. The stepwise approach to developing best-practice management options employed by N2Africa

Some similarities between the development of the inoculant market in Uruguay and Africa

During March 2012, while surfing the web for information about inoculants in Africa, I, Pedro Lage read in N2Africa Podcaster # 12 that "the N2Africa proposed strategy suggested was "to import high quality inoculants, and focus on ensuring an effective supply chain for inoculants in the areas where N2Africa is working until we know that there is sufficient demand to warrant local production". I wrote an email to Dr. Ken Giller offering him samples for trials and since then we have been mailing from time to time. Recently, he asked me to write a small report on what we are doing in Africa. My idea is to set a comparison between the development of inoculants in my country and what N2Africa is doing. ...

N2Africa project launched in Tanzania in February

N2Africa was officially launched by the Director for Research and Development in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Dr Fidelis Myaka on behalf of the Permanent Secretary Ms Sophia Kaduma at the start of the workshop held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 19-20 February, 2014. The project launch was organized by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) ―one of the project’s implementing partners. ...

N2Africa/phase II DR Congo activities have already begun

Opportunities for sustainable intensification of climbing bean on smallholder farming systems in the eastern highlands of DR Congo

South Kivu is located in the eastern part of DRC. This is a productive area, but agricultural productivity has been held back by years of war, overpopulation and land degradation. ...

Photo: Dr Bernard Vanlauwe talking to farmers of Ruzizi

N2Africa wins top prize in the Harvesting Nutrition Contest
N2Africa was one of three winners of the SecureNutrition Knowledge Platform’s 2013 Harvesting Nutrition contest. The SecureNutrition Knowledge platform of the World Bank has partnered with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Save the Children to create the Harvesting Nutrition contest. A contest with the aim of showcasing projects around the globe that have bridged gaps between agriculture, food security, and nutrition. ...


Update from Nigeria

About Community mobilization:

N2Africa-Nigeria is conducting an awareness campaign to inform the rural farming communities on yield enhancing technologies ...

And Pre - season training in Nigeria:

Prior to planting date the project organized pre–season training for participating farmers...

Pre-season training in Kaduna State

The use of tablets and Short Message System (SMS) for data collection: Demonstration from case study in N2Africa-Ethiopia

In the 2014 growing season, two digital data collection methods were explored in Ada’a and Damot Gale districts of Ethiopia. The first approach is using Google Nexus tablets by extension workers and research technicians to collect both agronomic and socio-economic data. The second approach is using SMS method in which farmers send information on agronomic practices using SMS (Crowdsourcing). ...

Theory of change and planning workshop held for Uganda Partners

A national planning workshop for the N2Africa project in Uganda was conducted from 27th to 30th January 2015 at Kabira Country Club in Kampala. The purpose of the workshop was twofold; to build a common understanding of the vision of the N2Africa project and the logic underpinning of the project action, and to develop a national work plan for the second year.  ...

Group photo of workshop participants - Prof. Johnny Mugisha, seated 2nd from right

Agriculture Field day exposes flaws and solutions
Malawi faces a decrease of 27% in maize yield this season compared with last year. The recent Agricultural field day held at LUANAR Natural Resources College organized by the African Institute for Corporate Citizenship (AICC) and attended by different agricultural organizations and students has shown that some fields yielded well, despite the floods and the dry spells that have characterized this growing season and that will have good harvest.
Does the interaction of the indigenous and exotic rhizobia in contrasting Zimbabwean soil conditions result in superior isolates worthy of the inoculant strain title?

Mazvita Chiduwa is pursuing her studies for a PhD at Murdoch University. She commenced in July 2012 under the supervision of Ravi Tiwari, John Howieson, Julie Ardley, Graham O’Hara and Paul Mapfumo.

Soyabean is grown throughout Zimbabwe and is recognised as a strategic crop because of the myriad of benefits accruing. Although indigenous rhizobia have been isolated, distribution is highly erratic and inoculation is critical to obtain economic yields in Zimbabwe.  ...

The missing link

What started as an agreeable brain storming session, has, over time become the ‘Bean Thinking’ campaign to inform smallholder farming household members about good practices in common bean farming.

A group of public and private sector entities has joined with an array of initiatives into an innovative Legume Alliance. ...

Towards a public private partnership for grain legumes: A case of World Vision Uganda

Public private partnership (PPP) is a co-operative venture between the public and private sectors on the basis of expertise of each partner. A PPP meets clearly articulated public needs through the appropriate allocation of resources, risks and rewards. ...

Photo: Farmers being taken through the different treatments of the soyabean demo during the field day in Oyam District

Publication on shelf-life of inoculants in the African Crop Science Journal

Isaac Balume was Masters student under N2Africa and conducted his study at the University of Nairobi from 2011 to 2013. He was based at the MIRCEN Laboratory University of Nairobi where he did research on quality control of inoculant used on bean and soybean in Eastern and Central Africa. This resulted in a research paper on ‟Shelf-life of legume inoculants in different carrier materials available in East Africaˮ that recently was published on line.

Photo: Drop plate method for quality control of inoculant

Impact of P fertilizer and inoculant application on feed quality of grain legume residues for livestock in mixed crop-livestock production system in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia where the mixed crop-livestock system is a predominant feature in agriculture, promotion of improved production technology is expected to boost grain legume production with a concomitant increase in the amount of legume residues for livestock feeding. ...

Photo: Legume straw sample processing and analysis for quality parameters @ ILRI Lab

N2Africa visiting the inoculant factory in Zimbabwe

During the N2Africa Field Visits 2016 in Zimbabwe, we visited the inoculant factory in Marondera. The Soil Productivity Research Laboratory (SPRL) in Marondera, Zimbabwe hosts the government-owned inoculant factory of Zimbabwe. It is the sole facility in the country ...

Photo: Production of inoculant at the SPRL Inoculant factory in Marondera, Zimbabwe

N2Africa legume varieties spread through communities through farmer-to-farmer diffusion

At the end of N2Africa phase I, we looked at the ‘early impact’ of the project. Next to a number of surveys among farmers, agro-dealers, partners, we also carried out several case studies. One of these case studies involved an effort to explore to what extent the legume varieties disseminated by N2Africa through demonstration trials had spread beyond the farmers directly involved in the project. ...

SAIRLA Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Research and Learning in Africa; Gender and the Legume Alliance: integrating multi-media communications approaches and input brokerage
The project ‘Gender and the Legume Alliance: integrating multi-media communications approaches and input brokerage’ is implemented by CABI and N2Africa with grant support from the SAIRLA-programme. This five-year programme commissions research and facilitates multi-scale learning with regard to sustainable agricultural intensification (SAI). The project will support several N2Africa milestones related to feedback of the performance of dissemination models, the effectiveness of input supply and marketing systems, themes and models for women-specific dissemination campaigns and the effectiveness and efficiency of various D&D approaches. ...
Examining indigenous soyabean rhizobia populations for inoculant use in Zimbabwe

Rhizobia inoculants form the backbone of soyabean production, which is important in Zimbabwe’s agriculture led economy. Traditionally, soyabean production is carried out with the use of elite, but exotic, rhizobia inoculant strains. It has been established in previous studies (Zengeni et al., 2003; Zengeni et al., 2006) that these strains do not persist well in the fields, and require frequent inoculation.

N2Africa as case study for PROIntensAfrica - What role for legumes in sustainable intensification?

In 2015, N2Africa was selected as a case study within the PROIntensAfrica initiative and over the last one and a half year this case study was conducted in two of the N2Africa countries, Ghana and Kenya. We have given regular updates in the Podcaster, and the case study has now been finalised. The report can be found online: click here.

Figure: Average scores on selected sustainability indicators for households in study sites in Northern Ghana

Testing biological nitrogen fixation of soyabean in partnership with NCBA-CLUSA in Mozambique

Picture: Field day in Barue District

Since the re-introduction of soyabean in Mozambique, the main soyabean inoculant used across the country is the short shelf inoculant MasterFix imported from Brazil. The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA-CLUSA) is a not-for-profit cooperative development and trade association, and partners with N2Africa in the soyabean value chain. ...

Rizobacter: Inoculants for Africa

Rizobacter is an Argentinian company strongly committed to delivering sustainable solutions to farmers around the world. In Rizobacter´s 40-year history, excellence in quality and continuous innovation has been the forefront, enabling the company to develop state-of-the-art technologies in the formulation of liquid biological products. Strategic alliances with renowned companies, expanded the company´s product line to include adjuvants and crop nutrition products. Whether through its own subsidiaries or through local partners, Rizobacter has commercial presence in over 25 countries worldwide. ...

Image: Small-plot trial in Frankfort, South Africa testing Rizobacter´s inoculants for soyabean.

Innovation and systematic change towards achieving impact at scale

Outlooks and focus for 2017 will be on:

  • Leveraging resources through partnerships; ...
  • Expanding partners and area of coverage; ...
  • Stimulating private sector participation for input delivery; ...
  • Linking farmer groups to access output markets; ...
  • Program management and systematic learning loops. ...
Farmers’ stories from D.R. Congo

One of the strategies to disseminate research results of N2Africa at scale in South Kivu, Eastern DRC, has been the training of students of agriculture high schools in the N2Africa action sites. The trained students in turn train households in their villages. This article contains the stories of three farmers about how the learned about N2Africa’s technologies and the impact on their livelihoods.

Photo: Appoline Mapendo (lady on the right)

MALAM ISAH WAKILI: An Enthusiastic Cowpea Farmer from Nigeria

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

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. ...
Yield stability studies on soyabean genotypes under Rhizobia inoculation in the Savanna Region of Nigeria

Data collection on the field by Kehinde Tolorunse (right) and Sunday Joshua

 Soyabean (Glycine max L.) is the world’s important food legume of great nutritional value. The crop has the highest protein content (40%) of all food crops and is equivalent to proteins of animal products. The crop holds considerable potential for arresting soil fertility decline and enhancing household food nutrition. Therefore, this study aimed at exploiting soyabean genotypes for yield under Rhizobia inoculation across three locations in the Savanna Region of Nigeria. ...

The NoduMax factory continues to manufacture and market quality soyabean inoculant to Nigeria, West African neighbours and venturing into various other SSA region countries.

Production. ...

MIRCEN will continue its rhizobiology services

The Microbial Resource Center (MIRCEN) was established at the University of Nairobi long before the N2Africa Project (1977) and will continue its work afterward. Our activities include testing legume inoculants and other bio-fertilizers, maintaining a small working culture collection of symbiotic micro-organisms and conducting training and research on soil microbiology. The past eight years that MIRCEN has worked closely with N2Africa have proven mutually beneficial. ...

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

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

Reflections from our Rwandan colleagues

The Rwanda team, who organized this years' annual meeting also had the possibility to invite a number of partners from Phase I, for them to share experience on how they continued disseminating N2Africa technologies with a minimum intervention of the project, and also interact with other members of the N2Africa family and learn from them. Four of them gave feedback on the meeting.

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).

Farmer to farmer learning
An example of the farmer to farmer learning and follow up at Butare village - Western Kenya
Training of Trainers in Malawi
In Malawi 110 Lead Farmers and Agricultural extension Development officers from 5 of the 6 implementing districts were trained. Motivation was high and the project triggered much enthusiasm.
CIALCA and CGIAR Consortium Research Programme on the Humid Tropics announce a Conference on the 'Challenges and Opportunities for Agricultural Intensification of the Humid Highland Systems', Kigali Rwanda 24-27 October 2011

CIALCA and the CGIAR Consortium Research Programme (CRP) on the Humid Tropics have the pleasure of announcing an international conference on the 'Challenges and Opportunities for Agricultural Intensification of the Humid Highland Systems of sub-Saharan Africa', to be convened in Kigali, Rwanda from 24-27 October 2011. 

Please see the conference flyer (English) for more details, including registration information and how to submit a paper or poster for presentation.

Field Days in Zimbabwe

The months of March and April earmarked the harvesting season in Zimbabwe and farmers who participated in the N2Africa Project showed their appreciation and how much they gain the project by organising field days in their respective Districts and wards. 


Boletim Informativo SOJA - nr.3

The Soya team from TechnoServe sent us their latest newsletter in Portugese.

N2Africa consultant visits the inoculant factory at Marondera, Zimbabwe

Dr Bruce Knight of the legume Technology, UK, was in Zimbabwe on 26th June-2nd July 2011 to work with staff of the inoculant production plant at the Soil Productivity and Research Laboratory (SPRL), Marondera. Legume Technology Ltd is the producer of LegumeFix inoculants for various legume crops and Bruce was engaged by N2Africa as a consultant for his tremendous experience in the inoculant manufacturing industry. His task was to familiarise himself with the technical aspect of production and recommend changes in production process, equipment and other resources that will result in a more efficient and cost-effective process of production and a high quality product.

N2Africa goes global in search for high quality inoculants

The N2Africa project sent out invitation to global inoculant manufacturers to tender for the supply of soyabean inoculants for the project’s research and development activities in 2011 and to consider establishing partnerships with local agro-dealers in all 8 N2Africa countries. This was done to ensure, that the project provides smallholder farmers with the best quality inoculants available.

On the photo: N2Africa’s Farm Liaison Officer for Nigeria, Esther Chinedu, off-loads boxes of LegumeFix soyabean inoculants received from Legume Technology Ltd, UK.


Inoculation and fertilizer blending affects nodulation of climbing bean and soyabean in Kenya

An assessment of legume root nodulation by two grain legumes in response to inoculation and fertilizer source suggests that nodulation number, frequency of crown nodulation and the effectiveness of symbiosis may be controlled by crop management. Two grain legumes, climbing bean “Kenya Tamu” and soyabean SB19 were established at twelve locations in west Kenya. They were planted using different fertilizer and inocluation treatments and nodule production was scored after eight weeks.

Samson Foli on working visit to Nigeria

Samson Foli, an MSc student of Wageningen University, The Netherlands, will conduct nutrient omission trials in greenhouse and field experiments to try to unravel the cause of non-responsiveness of soyabean to fertilisation especially of phosphorus.

On the photo: Samson Foli (extreme right) poses for a photograph with farmers in one of the communities where he is carrying out detailed farm characterisation


Human capacity building project on legume sciences

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has just awarded a grant of to undertake capacity building in Legume Sciences for Africa. The project will focus mainly on training and research to increase yields of major food legumes in Africa such as cowpea, groundnut, common bean and soybean. The funding will be used for basic and applied training of 12 MSc and six PhD students over a five-year period. The focus countries of this project include Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Meeting on N2Africa project finances at Wageningen

December 14th-16th a meeting was organized at Wageningen for the N2Africa financial staff. Led by Alastair Simmons, Ken Giller and Kenton Dashiell the delegates of CIAT (Lorraine Odhiambo), IITA (Kayode Awobajo) and Wageningen University (Lenie Kooijman and Wim de Wijse) worked towards the new budgets for years 3 and 4 of the project.


International conference Integrated Soil Fertility Management in Africa: From Microbes to Markets (ISFM Africa)

CIAT - TSBF and partners will be organizing an international conference in October 22-27, 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya on the Theme: Integrated Soil Fertility Management in Africa: From Microbes to Markets (ISFM Africa). This meeting is also the biennial meeting of the African Association of Biological Nitrogen Fixation (AABNF).

More details will be provided in the first announcement. (Link)

The website is: An official email address will be soon available on the website of CIAT-TSBF.

Barriers to seed trade between COMESA countries lifted

A newsletter contribution by Chris Kakunta about completion of  harmonizing seed trade rules and regulations for the region by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) through its specialised agency, the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA).

The finalisation of the rules and regulations will result in removing trade barriers to free-flow of seed among member states.

TLII Report: Tropical Grain Legumes in Africa and South Asia
The Tropical Legumes II project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has recently published a research report on six major tropical legumes (chickpea, common bean, cowpea, groundnut, pigeonpea and soyabean)


Progress N2Africa in Ethiopia

Esther Ronner reports about the start up meetings and what to do next to get prepared for the real work for N2Africa in Ethiopia.

TechnoServe Edition 9 of the Boletim Soja

The Soya team from TechnoServeInc sent us their Boletim Soja no. 9 in Portugese.

Conference announcements

Announcement of 2 potentially interesting legume related conferences.

Link to New Agriculturist: Perspective Ken Giller

See this link for a short ‘Perspective’ piece on how our thinking about approaches to helping farmers choose options within N2Africa can be more broadly applied to other approaches.

Announcement First International Conference on Global Food Security

The First International Conference on Global Food Security, that will take place from 29 September till 2 October 2013 in Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands, aims to deliver state-of-the-art analysis, inspiring visions and innovative research methods arising from interdisciplinary research.

We hope to welcome you next year to the First International Conference on Global Food Security - see

Announcement Pedometrics 2013 conference in Nairobi

We received the announcement that The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) will be co-hosting the Pedometrics 2013 conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

For more information see the flyer.

The Crawford Fund Master Class on Rhizobiology

The Crawford Fund Master Class was a two-week training course, held from the 1st -13th of December 2012 in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka on all the skills and techniques of rhizobiology. Participants, facilitators and coordinators were from 10 different countries.

The theme of the master class was "The isolation, identification and utilization of root nodule bacteria (rhizobia) in promoting sustainable agricultural productivity.

Limitations in the Production of Legume crops in Zimbabwe

Legumes, such as groundnuts, sugar beans, soyabeans, cowpeas and bambara nuts, are important in the cropping systems of smallholder farmers in the communal areas in Zimbabwe. These legumes are often referred to as women’s crops and they are not given as much attention as other crops like maize, tobacco and cotton. Despite the fact that legumes enhance soil fertility through biological nitrogen fixation (BNF), their role in human nutrition and their contribution to household cash income are still not highly appreciated. This article seeks to bring out some challenges that limit the production of the legumes by smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe.

Photo: Isaac Chabata pointing out the different treatments in the soyabean D&D trial of Ambrose Mapire, Makoni district.

Engineers meet scientists to design an inoculum plant
The new Business Incubator Platform on the IITA campus in Ibadan continues to expand with the planned construction of a new inoculum plant. Last week, engineers from IITA’s Facility Management Services met for two days with scientists from IITA and Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and from Legume Technology, a commercial inoculum producer from the UK, and collectively designed the plant’s structure and anticipated operations. ...

Rhizobium inoculant production in the N2Africa soil microbiology laboratory at Kalambo in the Sud Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo

The Faculty of Agriculture, Université Catholique de Bukavu, DRC, a partner of N2Africa, is implementing rhizobiology activities in the framework of the objective 3 of the N2Africa project, which global goal being enhancing inputs from BNF in smallholder farming systems.

For the full article by Professor Walangululu see this link.

Promising elite rhizobium strains from Kivu, DRC, isolated and tested
My name is Bintu Ndusha, I am a Congolese student at University of Nairobi with my studies funded by the N2Africa project. I am currently doing my research on my project in Rhizobiology titled "Effectiveness of Rhizobia strains isolated from South Kivu soils in nodulation of Soyabean (Glycine max)".
Early impacts of the N2Africa project

The N2Africa project defined its Vision of Success for generating impacts that, given the magnitude of the constraints to agricultural development in the project countries, the innovative nature of this project, and the complexity of change dynamics, will take at least 5-10 years to achieve. Reaching the end of the first phase, we conducted an early impact assessment to establish progress made towards achieving the Vision of Success. The survey was carried out in each of the eight target countries amongst farmers who had received a technology packages in a season previous to when the survey was conducted and results were compared to results from the baseline survey conducted at the beginning of the project. ...

Symbiotic effectiveness of indigenous Bradyrhizobia strains and strategies to maximize the contribution of Biological Nitrogen Fixation on soyabean in Mozambique

In August 2012 Amaral Chibeba started his PhD research in Mozambique under the supervision of Dr. Mariangela Hungria (Embrapa), Dr. Maria de Fátima Guimarães (Universidade Estatual de Londrina) and Dr. Stephen Boahen (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture)

We enjoy sharing the summary of his study. ...

Photo: Amaral Chibeba during thinning on 11 December 2013

Innovation Village about N2Africa in Tanzania

Innovation Village, a news blog about promoting new technologies, businesses, products, services, startups in Africa, paid attention to the launch of N2Africa in Tanzania by publishing a press release.

N2Africa Malawi

Positive developments! despite the absence of N2Africa in the first three months of the 2013/2014 season: (a) huge interest by farmers to use soybean inoculants despite facing hurdles to access the product; (b) the pass-on program of legumes seed from farmer to farmer continued with facilitation by DAES, WVI, CRS, NASFAM and Clinton-Hunter Development Initiatives, among others. ...

N2Africa Master Plans: Creating synergies in a decentralized initiative

The second phase of N2Africa is organized around a decentralized structure with much of the decision-making processes residing with the coordinators of the core countries, in close consultation with the project leadership and coordination team. This was a necessary modification to the structure of the first phase, in view of the more opportunistic, partner-led strategies required for delivering the vision of success of phase II ...

IITA Youth Agripreneurs and N2Africa flag off 3-week intensive training for Borno State youths (#SBYOUHT2014)

IITA Youth Agripreneurs in collaboration with N2Africa on the 3rd of September, 2014 flagged off the 3-week intensive training for 20 youths from Borno State proposed few months ago, which seeks to build the capacity of the youths in agribusiness as an income generating activity.

The 3-week intensive training according to the IITA Youth Agripreneurs ...

Training Youths from Borno State, Nigeria on Agribusiness

In August 2012, a group of Nigerian Youth Corp (NYSC) members, trained at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Headquarters, Ibadan (Nigeria) established the IITA Agripreneurs (IYA) as an independent agribusiness enterprise involved in the production, processing and marketing that cuts across value chains of several crops as well as the production and marketing of vegetables and fish.

The IYA organized a training workshop on "Agribusiness, a Key to Productive Youth Engagement", last September. ...

MSc research in Kapchorwa district Uganda
Who is that white man with his walking stick and that little guy?" farmers started asking other farmers. I climbed many hills (I tried to do this as well with a bunch of banana on my head: nearly impossible), sloped down slippery hills on rubber boots and did this all together with my soil probe and my (female) translator. It was an unforgettable rich experience and I want to thank the project and the Ugandan farmers and people for that! ...
N2Africa interventions that improve agricultural productivity in Malawi
In Malawi, N2Africa is working to resolve some of the issues through engaging farmers in trainings and capacity building, field demonstrations and sensitization on new technologies such as the use of rhizobial inoculant. N2Africa is collaborating with Kasungu District Agriculture Development Office (DADO) and Churches Action in Relief and Development (CARD) to ...
Impact of Improved Cowpea Technology on Women Farmers in Southern Borno State, Nigeria.

This research is on cowpea (Vigna unguiculata, (L.)) which is an annual leguminous crop indigenous to Tropical Africa. Women farmers mostly grow cowpea as a food security crop and it is an important source of protein and income for many of them. The high protein content of cowpea, its adaptability to different types of soils, drought tolerance, ability to improve soil fertility and prevention of soil erosion makes it an important economic crop. In Africa, the women farmers produce, process and sell snacks made from this nutritious legume. With a growing market for cowpeas both within and outside the country, women can be encouraged to increase their production by using improved cowpea technology.

Leaving the mines for agriculture

N2Africa partnered with Women for Women in Kamituga (South Kivu, DRC). Together they offer the women from this region better opportunities in ‘business’ agriculture than they currently get from heavy work in the mines.

Photo: Site in Kamituga where BANRO SPRL (a private mining company) is in the exploration phase

Tanzania Legume Alliance

In early 2015 African Soil Health Consortium helped convene a group that became the Tanzania Legume Alliance. This group is now implementing the campaign called Maharage Bingwa (Champion Beans).

The Maharage Bingwa campaign is supporting the dissemination of common bean technologies and practices recommended by the Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and N2Africa. ...

N2Africa in the news

In September 2015 an expert group gathered in Oxford to discuss the elemental problems of the nitrogen crisis The John Innes Centre’s Allan Downie reports on problems and progress in his blog post, referring to N2Africa (a.o.).

Finding niches for legumes in smallholder farming systems

N2Africa followers do not need convincing about the benefits of legumes to smallholders. Yet, legumes mean different things to different people. Agro-foresters may think of tree legumes, livestock specialists may interpret legumes to mean forages, while to crop agronomists legumes tend to be grain legumes. Legumes are indeed a diverse class of plants – they are diverse in form: from the mighty Acacia to the diminutive white clover. ...

Picture: Example output from Legume CHOICE tool

N2Africa agronomy trials and farmers’ recommendations in Tanzania

"Can the use of soyabean inoculants reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers? How much fertilizer should soyabean farmers continue to apply in subsequent seasons? What are the long term effects of fertilizers, inoculants and soyabean and maize intercropping? N2Africa tries to find out," said Freddy Baijukya, Country Coordinator for N2Africa in Tanzania. ...

Photo: Joseph Mompesh showing the soyabean field trials

Smart partnership between soyabean seed and inoculant producers in Zimbabwe
Seed Co Limited, a public listed seed company incorporated in Zimbabwe, is the leading producer and marketer of certified crop seeds in southern Africa. Seed Co develops and releases soyabean varieties for Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and South Africa. The seed house has produced a number of specific and high yielding soyabean varieties that are transforming soyabean production for smallholder farmers. This has been a direct result of production of seed products in ecological conditions nearest and similar to end-users’ environments. ...
N2Africa research design to manage factors affecting adoption of grain legume technologies

N2Africa is scaling-out grain legume technologies, practices and models to benefit smallholder farmers in multiple, diverse and heterogeneous contexts of sub-Saharan Africa. ...

Left: Part of the table showing operationalisation of N2Africa research design

Response of groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) varieties to rhizobia inoculation in the Sudan and northern Guinea savannas of Nigeria

The aim of my study is to explore the use of rhizobia inoculation in order to increase yield and biological nitrogen fixation of the selected groundnut genotypes in the Sudan and northern Guinea savannas of Nigeria. Last year, I have already started the field work with two experiments. ...

Photo: Faruk Showing his visitors round in the groundnut fields in Bayero University, Nigeria

Mid-year 2016 report: Marketing and processing legumes in west Kenya
Stimulating marketing and value-added processing of grain legumes is an important activity within the N2Africa Project in west Kenya. During the first six months of 2016 a total 96 tons of soyabean grain were sold through collective marketing by members belonging to the WeRATE R4D Platform in west Kenya, generating KES 5 million. ...

Picture: Soya Beverage is packed in 12 x 20 g economy-sachets

Legume yield gaps in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania

Currently sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is not self-sufficient in cereals, while the demand is projected to triple between 2010 and 2050 due to population growth and changing diets. Therefore it is needed to drastically increase food production to meet this challenging demand for agricultural products by 2050. A major option is narrowing gaps between actual farm yields and yield potential.

Picture: Maize yield gap in SSA at country level from the Global Yield Gap Atlas (, black dots indicate the weather stations used for the yield gap assessment

Tackling some major constraints to climbing bean production in Uganda

A year ago, I was in Uganda to study farmers’ adaptations of improved climbing bean technologies in the Eastern and Southwestern highlands. These improved technologies had been shown to farmers at N2Africa demonstration trials, and they tested the practices of their liking on their own land.

Skipping to one of the main findings: bean yields were not larger on plots where farmers tried some improved practices ...

Image: Damage by rats

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

Increasing legumes harvest with inoculant: The story of AISL, Malawi

New agricultural technologies help to innovate and modernize agricultural production in the light of climate change and soil degradation. Research has confirmed that the addition of inoculant to soyabean can boost yields with at least 40 % to 50 % with all other factors kept equal. Another target is to develop improved inoculant products and cost-effective production and delivery methods. ... See the stories of Mr. Kawalewale and Ms. Matiasi.

Photo: “I will harvest more this year” Proud soyabean farmer, Natalia Matiasi showing her harvest for 2016/17 season

Product Testing of BNF Technologies in Kenya
This report describes the supply of BNF technology products by the N2Africa Project in Kenya during the 2017 long rains. This is the penultimate growing season of our activities in Kenya, and one that undertook a difficult transition from the grassroots focus of the past to an agribusiness orientation. We now work with agrodealers and input suppliers through the One Stop Shop Operation Mechanism (OSSOM, sounds like ‘awesome’) as a key component of our N2Africa Project exit strategy in a manner that reinforces commercial supply of BNF technology products to farmers in West Kenya beyond the lifespan of the project. ...

Soyabean seed, Sympal legume fertilizer and refrigerated BIOFIX legume inoculants offered for sale by Dick Morgan Ongai at a One Stop Shop in Vihiga County, Kenya.

The effects of inoculation, P application and sequential cropping on cowpea varieties on farmer’s fields in Minna, southern Guinea savanna of Nigeria
Two field trials were conducted in the 2016 cropping season. The first was conducted to determine the effect of phosphorus fertilizer application and rhizobial inoculation on nodulation, N2-fixation, growth and productivity of three cowpea varieties on three farmer’s fields in Minna, in the southern guinea savanna of Nigeria. ...

The student collecting data on the field

OSSOM’s awesome future

The One Stop Shop Operations Mechanism (OSSOM) was started in Kenya at the beginning of 2017 to better link “last mile” agrodealers to commercial manufacturers and distributors of BNF technologies. This move followed three year’s reliance upon the Western Region Agricultural Technology Evaluation (WeRATE) as N2Africa’s main outreach partner in west Kenya, an umbrella organization comprising 28 farmer associations. ...

Photo: BNF technology demonstration at an OSSOM Customer Open House

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

N2Africa in the news

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

Reports and other output uploaded on the N2Africa website

N2Africa Review of policies relating to legume intensification in N2Africa countries.

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


N2AFRICA is a large scale, science research project focused on putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers growing legume crops in Africa. N2AFRICA is funded by ‘The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’ through a grant to Plant Production Systems, Wageningen University, in the Netherlands. It is led by Wageningen University together with CIAT-TSBF, IITA and has many partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

Detailed farm analyses for ex-ante impact assessment of N2Africa technologies have started


Detailed farm analyses for ex-ante impact assessment of N2Africa technologies have started.

That Legumes have great potential to improve soil fertility, productivity and resilience of African arable farming is very well known to people working with legumes. Understanding how to further improve effectiveness under the highly variable conditions will be supported by the ex-ante impact analyses of N2Africa technologies initiated by the N2Africa team.

N2Africa partnering with ISFM
The N2Africa project is partnering with a new project called “Increasing smallholder farm productivity, income, and health through widespread adoption of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) in the Great Lake Regions and Southern Africa.” The leader of this project in Zimbabwe and Malawi is Nelson Mango. 


Video from Cote d’Ivoire by Adako Moudiongui

Culture du Soja en milieu paysan. Conception et Scénario de Dr Adako MOUDIONGUI produit par Yao Alexis Haccandy PACIL/FIDA Bouaké Côte d’Ivoire 2002. Participation du Groupement de femmes de Bodokro (Béoumi) et le Groupement de jeunes d’Adikro (Brobo). (i) Méthodes culturales; (ii) Biofertilisation du soja par inoculation;(iii) Production et conservation des semences de soja en milieu paysan.(iv) Transformation du soja pour la consommation domestique (préparation des mets courants, bouillies de sevrage); (v) Avis des producteurs sur la biofertilisation compréhension de l’inoculation la nodulation (BNF); (vi) Rentabilité de la culture soja biofertilisé avec l’inoculum

Here is a link to a video on smallholder soyabean production and inoculation research in a country not covered by N2Africa. Great to see the enthusiasm of others for a common goal!

N2Africa Social Media Communications Strategy

Over the last few months, we have been preparing a social media strategy for N2Africa. The launch of this strategy will coincide with the November meeting, with a dedicated Facebook page as a central element. The Facebook page will promote N2Africa activity and link directly with partners and supporters, some of whom already have a social media presence. The N2Africa Facebook page will be updated regularly with videos, pictures and articles sourced from the Podcaster. If you have suggestions about what to feature, please let us know. ...

Announcement 16th conference of the AABNF, 2-6 November 2014

The Moroccan Association of Microbiology (AMM) and the African association for Biological Nitrogen Fixation (AABNF) will organize the 16th congress of the AABNF and the 4th international congress on microbial Biotechnologies under the topic of the integrated soil fertilization management 2 (ISFM2), from 2 to 6 November 2014, at Ecole normale Supérieure, Mohamed V-Agdal University, Rabat, Morocco.

For more information see their first circular.

L’Association Marocaine de Microbiologie (AMM) et l’Association Africaine de Fixation Biologique de l’Azote (AABNF) organiseront le 16 ème congrès de l’Association Africaine de Fixation Biologique de l’Azote et le 4ème congrès international des Biotechnologies microbiennes sous le thème de la gestion intégrée de la fertilité des sols 2, du 2 au 6 Novembre 2014, à l’Ecole normale Supérieure, Université Mohamed V-Agdal, Rabat, Maroc.

Pour plus d’ information veuillez consulter leur première circulaire.

N2Africa launch Ethiopia

The N2Africa project was officially launched in Addis Ababa on 27-28 Feb 2014. The launch was held in a tent due to ongoing refurbishment on ILRI’s conference facilities. The tent lent an informal atmosphere to the meeting and encouraged strong engagement by around 70 participants from across Ethiopia and from other N2Africa countries. ...

N2Africa in Zimbabwe

From January 2014, the University of Zimbabwe, Crop Science Department, assumed coordination of the project, taking over from CIAT. There has been a seamless changeover, with support from both Judith de Wolf, the previous N2Africa coordinator for Zimbabwe, and Dr Nelson Mango, the CIAT Country Representative in Zimbabwe.  ...

New extension materials ready!

We’re happy to present three posters which are ready to use as extension materials in N2Africa. Two posters deal with inoculation, presenting inoculation methods for the two most widely used inoculants, LegumeFix and Biofix. The third poster shows different methods for staking climbing beans, including the advantages and disadvantages of the different methods. Please download the posters and use them however and whenever you like. Alternatively you can find the posters on

N2Africa-Ethiopia, update on the season’s activities

In this cropping season, N2Africa-Ethiopia has planned to reach more than 5000 farmers in 24 Woredas (districts) through its research and development partners (Federal and Regional Agricultural Research Institutes and Hawassa University). The Woredas have been identified as potential pulse growing areas earlier and located at four regions in Ethiopia (Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Oromia and Southern Region). ...

Photo: Active participation of women farmers in the field evaluation of faba bean trials at Dabat woreda

Effect of cattle manure, mineral fertilizer and Rhizobium inoculation on climbing bean production in Burera district, Rwanda

Rwandans are among world’s top consumers of beans as it is a preferred legume across livelihood zones and wealth groups. This staple is considered as meat for the poor or a near complete food, mainly due to its nutritious nature: common beans contain proteins, resistant starch, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Although growing climbing beans involves tedious work, climbing types have the advantage of yielding three times more than bush beans. ...

N2Africa-Ethiopia Conducted Gender Training Workshop with the aim of Mainstreaming Gender into Legume Value Chain

N2Africa Ethiopia national team in collaboration with Project Gender Specialist and the Centre for African Family Studies (CAFS), conducted gender training workshop during 15-18 December, 2014 at ILRI Addis Campus. The trainees were drawn from agronomy, soil sciences, plant breeding and socioeconomics and research extension departments of the NARS partners. The training was conducted to sensitize partners, mainstream approaches, and design work plans to address gender inequity in legume value chains and decision-making and hence to address one of the key project objectives "Empowering Women to Increase Benefits from Legume Production".

Expanding soyabean cultivation to Zambezi Valley in Mozambique

N2Africa, in collaboration with its partner in the soyabean value chain iDE (International Development Enterprises), is testing the adaptability of five promiscuous soyabean varieties (earlier, medium and later maturing) for the first time in the Zambezi Valley, a non-traditional soyabean area. The Zambezi Valley ...

Photo: Participants at field day observing different soyabean varieties growing in Caia District

Studying the benefits of intensifying common bean cultivation on smallholder farms in the Northern Highlands of Tanzania

Intensification of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) cultivation on smallholder farms in the Northern Highlands of Tanzania is the main focus of my PhD study. This study is prompted by the low yields (0.3 – 1 t ha-1) obtained by smallholder farmers, despite the large prospective productivity of improved varieties of common bean (3 t ha-1) in Tanzania. The study aims to unravel the contributions of genetic, management and environment related factors to common bean yield and nitrogen fixation. It also includes cultural, social and economic analyses of growing common beans. ...

Do Ghanaian farmers produce what they need to eat?
In my PhD research I assess whether the food requirements of rural households in Ghana match with the food they produce. Therefore I need to know how much and which food the household members need for a healthy diet, and how much and which food they produce on their farm. To see what food is needed for a healthy diet, together with a team of scientists, research assistants and students1 I collected dietary intake data from 400 children between 6 months and 2 years old in Karaga district in Northern Ghana. ...
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. ...

Reports and other output uploaded on the N2Africa website

MSc internship report by Servan Lenoir: Using the double pot technique to detect nutrient limitations for soybean growth (Glycine max) in Sierra Leonean soils (performed partly from a grant from the Howard G Buffett Foundation).

Material for extension in the series "Better legumes for farmers":

N2Africa flyer

Improving traditional storage systems of grain legume residues for livestock feeding in Ghana

Crop residues are an important livestock feed resource and as such they are linking crop and animal production in West Africa. They are the second largest feed source for livestock after grazing, especially in the dry season in the savannas. ...

Photo: Evaluation of stored GLRs after two months of storage by animals (sheep)

Issues of poor quality seed on the market heat up in Uganda

In the first phase of N2Africa, activities were aimed at facilitating learning within the project through feedback loops. Experiences from dissemination activities were to be monitored and assessed and findings fed back into research as well as planning for next season dissemination activities. Findings from research ...

Table: From related project Integrated Seed Sector Development project (ISSD) in Uganda

PROIntensAfrica stakeholder workshops to identify priority areas for research in Kenya and Ghana; What role for legumes in sustainable agricultural intensification?

Last year, N2Africa was selected as one of the six in-depth case studies within the PROIntensAfrica Initiative ( PROIntensAfrica aims to build a long-term research and innovation partnership between Africa and the European Union, focusing on the improvement of food and nutrition security through sustainable intensification. Since N2Africa’s selection as case study, ...

Figure 2. Lively discussions between farmers, researchers and NGO’s in Tamale, northern Ghana

Assessment of improved cowpea varieties cultivated by women farmers in southern part of Borno State, Nigeria

This study examined the impact of improved cowpea varieties on the income and the food security status of women farmers in southern part of Borno State, Nigeria. ...

Left: Part of the table on food security measures among women households in PROSAB area included in this update


Groundnut response to calcium and phosphorus fertilizer rates in Tanzania
Henry Tamba Nyuma focussed his research on investigating the response of groundnut to inorganic sources of calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) with emphases on yield, fats and protein contents, as well as profitability of fertilizer in groundnut production at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania. ...
BNF technology clearinghouse event in Kenya

Picture: Participants at the Clearinghouse event

WeRATE held a Clearinghouse planning meeting from 5 to 7 September attended by 30 participants drawn from 26 dues paying members, mostly farmer associations (see picture). During the meeting, BNF technologies were discussed and distributed to members, along with the field protocols to test them. ...
The GALA project: Gender and the Legume Alliance: Integrating multi-media communication approaches and input brokerage

We recently asked our colleagues at N2Africa ‘is soyabean a woman’s crop?’ Ken Giller reminded us that we could not make generalizations – and that we had to explore the context and location to know.

For the Ghanaian context Samuel Adjei-Nsiah came back with a great answer. He told us soyabean was introduced in Ghana as far back as 1909. However it was never utilized in food preparations until recently, due to difficulty in processing it at the household level. Even now when it is being promoted as food crop, less than 5% of the crop is consumed at the household level. Recent interest in the cultivation of the crop by both men and women was mainly due to the availability of market. For women their interest lies in the fact that it could be produced easily with minimal external inputs. ...

Image: At inception event for GALA held at UDS in Tamale, Ghana in mid November

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

Bean-rhizobia symbiosis in Kenya - snippets from a PhD study funded by N2Africa

One strategy by the N2Africa project to enhance legume productivity in Africa was to select rhizobial strains with enhanced biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) efficiency from the various countries (as part of the GL x GR x E x M framework) for use as inoculants. In line with this goal, I isolated rhizobia from beans growing in several agro-ecologies in Kenya and first assessed their genetic diversity. ...

Photo: Dr George Mwenda (second from right) with PhD supervisors (all from the Centre for Rhizobium Studies at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia). Supervisors from left to right are Dr Jason Terpolilli, Prof. John Howieson, and Dr Graham O’Hara

Educating Tanzanian Smallholder Farmers about Modern Bean Cultivation – What Works Best and at What Costs?

Women famers answering a questionnaire to assess their level of knowledge on bean cultivation

Most smallholder farmers in Tanzania depend on beans for daily subsistence. However, yields remain significantly below their potential, which is partly due to the lack of information about improved farming practices and the appropriate use of agricultural inputs. Therefore, N2Africa and its partners, notably the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) and Farm Radio International (FRI) launched the Maharage Bingwa Campaign (MBC). ...
Percentage similarity of indigenous rhizobia across different agro ecological zones in Nigeria

Similarity percentage among strains isolated from nodules trapped from soil collected from Kaduna agro ecological zone

Legumes are capable of establishing symbiotic associations with rhizobia in a process called biological nitrogen fixation which is responsible for the wide adoption of legumes as food crops, forages, green manures and in forestry. Recently, the call for the return to a sustainable form of agriculture due to pollution of water body by nitrate and increase in cost fertilizer has caused an increased interest in biological N2-fixation. ...
In the shadow of Kilimanjaro; assessment of disease and pest in common bean & maize cropping systems in northern Tanzania

African bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera) feeding
on Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) pod

The objective of the project of Nikolaj M. Vendelbo was to assess the effect of cropping system design on severity in two cultivars of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), local Mkanamna and improved Lyamungu, and maize (Zea mays) in Northern Tanzania.

N2Africa-Malawi: moving forward beyond 2017

N2Africa in Malawi started its work in 2010 and has been operating in seven administrative districts of Lilongwe, Dedza, Ntcheu, Salima, Dowa, Kasungu, Mchinji. It worked with partners ...

Photo: Demonstration plot-single row vs double row planting of groundnuts

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

Reports and other output uploaded on the N2Africa website
Related newsletters
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

Sad News

We are sad to pass on the news that Herman Potgieter of Soygro (Pty) Ltd, Potchefstroom, South Africa passed away in a car accident on 1st of September. We have lost a key colleague who was committed to the promotion of rhizobial inoculants in Africa. Our heartfelt condolences go to all of his family and friends. 

N2Africa kicks-off planting season in Malawi

News item that was also was published in the IITA e-Bulletin

Dissemination Update from West Kenya

BNF dissemination activities in west Kenya are entering their second year and are built around some great new legume varieties, recently commercialized rhizobium inoculant and some key accompanying technologies. During its first year, the project mobilized the efforts of 14 grassroots farmer associations and local NGOs to install 87 grain legume technology demonstrations and conduct 3410 on-farm BNF technology tests. During the second year, the number of collaborators will increase to 23 grassroots groups and 4000 new farmers examining soybean (SB 19 and 24) and climbing bean (cv. Tamu). MEA Ltd., a Kenyan-based fertilizer company, has licensed production of BIOFIX inoculant from the University of Nairobi MIRCEN and is meeting the project’s needs through a series of advance orders. MEA is also blending a fertilizer formulated by the project for symbiotic legumes (SYMPAL 0-23-16+) composed of 7 parts TSP, 7 parts SSP, 5 parts KCl and one part MgSO4. This blend is packaged into two kg bags and distributed with one kg of legume seed and 20 g of BIOFIX inoculant to farmers joining the project. Clearly, all the necessary components are in place to promote BNF and grain legume enterprise and the challenge before us is to assist farmers to adopt these technologies on a large scale.


Sharing highlights from the revised Agricultural Development strategy of the Bill& Melinda Gates Foundation

Here we share the revised Agricultural Development Strategy recently sent to N2Africa.

January 2013 episode of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation podcast “Inside the Gates”

This podcast is designed to provide a glimpse into the Bill & Melinda Gates strategies and the people who work at the foundation, and is part of their ongoing effort to share information with you on a regular basis.

In January’s episode (Episode 5):

  • A conversation with Aliko Dangote. James Whittington reports from Nigeria and sits down with Africa’s wealthiest individual to learn about the part he’s playing to help eradicate polio.
  • The evolution of a partnership. We met with grantee Asia Society and our College Ready education team to hear what they’re learning about working together to help all students succeed in school and life.
  • Around the foundation. Bill’s Annual Letter is coming up and Melinda paid a trip to the BBC as a guest editor. Our roving reporter brings you the highlights.
  • New Year’s Resolutions. Irvin tells listeners what he’s looking forward to in 2013

You can listen it here.

CADS partnership with N2Africa in Zimbabwe

Cluster Agricultural Development Services (CADS) is a registered NGO whose work dates back to over 20 years when its predecessor VeCo Zimbabwe implemented programmes on sustainable agriculture and livestock production in Zimbabwe. CADS works with disadvantaged rural smallholder farmer organisations and its focus is to facilitate sustainable institutional strengthening, technology development, good agronomic practices, food processing, and input and output marketing. ...

Photo: A Lead farmer, Mrs Marimo, demonstrating the inoculation process, Goromonzi 2011

N2Africa Phase II Launch in Ghana

The Phase II of N2Africa was officially launched in Ghana on 3-4 March, 2014 at the Modern City Hotel, Tamale.

Welcoming participants to the workshop, Dr Nutsuga, the Director of the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Tamale lauded the gains made by N2Africa in Phase I in improving the productivity of grain legumes in Northern Ghana ...

N2Africa in Mozambique

N2Africa is being implemented in close collaboration with many partners. The key partners include Technoserve, CLUSA, IIAM, IFDC, IKURU and many Farmers Associations. The project is conducting dissemination campaigns, demonstration plots, training and awareness creation through these partners, with support from the project.  ...

Review of conditioning factors and constraints to legume adoption and their management in Phase II of N2Africa

The successful proposal of Phase II of N2Africa has given us an opportunity to select sites for the new countries in N2Africa to maximise the relevance of the research findings for different environments and communities. Collating information and reviewing the literature to identify the major factors that promote or hinder the adoption of grain legumes in sub Saharan Africa resulted in developing the conceptual framework  on grain legume yield and biological nitrogen fixation at scale, and guided the choice of variables that need to be considered when characterising a new context. ...

Adoption domains for groundnuts in Tanzania

Uganda Progress

Progress has been made in implementing the N2Africa project since its launch early this year and I am hereby pleased to briefly share the progress per objective: Objective 1. M&E and capacity building and Objective 2. Dissemination, delivery, input and output market


Photo: Participants at the National partners meeting held at Kabira country club, 19-20th June 2014

N2Africa in the news

Short stories about Jeff Ehlers as key note speaker on November 13th in the CSIS conference and Comfort Ojo and colleague PhDs meeting Bill Gates and Dr Akinwunmi Adesina on November13th and 14th.

Photo: The Right Honourable Minister of Agriculture Dr Akinwunmi Adesina (right) with Wageningen University students (on the left Comfort Ojo)

Co-design of improved climbing bean technologies in Uganda and Tanzania

The 2015A rainy season is rapidly approaching in Uganda and northern Tanzania. For my PhD research on climbing beans in the highlands of these two countries, we have organized a number of discussions ...

Figure: Reasons that poorer, medium and wealthier farmers gave for preference of one staking method over the other (% is number of times a reason was mentioned divided by the total number of reasons). Staking methods compared were single stakes, tripods, sisal strings and banana fibre ropes.

Visit to Southern Highlands of Tanzania to strengthen partnership and explore areas of collaboration among soyabean value chain actors

Linkages among soyabean value chain actors in Tanzania are weak and coordination between participants and enterprises seem to be a totally alien concept. For over one year now, N2Africa and CRS led - Soya ni Pesa project (SnP) have been working to foster partnerships in soyabean value chain development. As meaningful partnership starts to develop, ...

Photo: long term experiment in Songea District that examines the long-term rotational effects on soyabean

Update on PhD research – Adoption and adaptation of improved climbing bean technologies in Uganda

Esther Ronner is research assistant employed by N2Africa at Wageningen University and is conducting her PhD studies within the project.

In June, two students from Makerere University (Florence Ajio and Ezakiel Muranda) started the collection of data among farmers with climbing bean adaptation trials in eastern Uganda (Kapchorwa District) and southwestern Uganda (Kabale and Kanungu Districts). The two students are doing an internship in the context of my PhD research on the adoption and adaptation of improved climbing bean technologies in Uganda. The students use the ‘field book for adaptation trials’, but work with additional questions on the cultivation of climbing beans including staking methods, materials, densities, length, etc. ...

Improved access to tools and guidelines for data collection: Get that overview!

A new structure for the N2Africa intranet is online. Especially information on agronomy activities and data collection is now easier to find and access. ...


N2Africa holds workshop on data collection for university staff, students, extension workers

In view of the need to introduce researchers to contemporary methods of data collection, N2Africa-Nigeria in conjunction with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) organized a 1-Day workshop for staff and Postgraduate students of the School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology (SAAT).

The workshop took place at the School of Agric Board Room, Main Campus. ...

Related newsletters

We received:

Third Annual Partners Review and Planning Workshop at ILRI-Ethiopia, Addis Ababa
N2Africa-Ethiopia held its third Annual National Partners Review and Planning Workshop from 27-29 January 2016 at ILRI campus, Addis Ababa. The main objectives of the workshop were to review achievements, lessons learnt, challenges encountered during the 2015 season and to plan project activities for 2016 season. More than 90 participants representing 30 different partner institutions attended the meeting [Government Offices- BoA & NARS, NGOs, CGIAR, Private companies, FCU (farmers’ cooperative unions), BMGF, WUR etc.].
School Feeding Program in Ghana - Caterers and cooks enriching school meals with soyabean recipes

Soyabean is one of the most promising grain legume crops for improving both human and livestock nutrition in northern Ghana due to its high protein content. Although the crop has been promoted during the past decade by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, amongst others, it is rarely consumed by households. This is mainly due to inadequate skills and knowledge in its processing and utilization. ...

Photo: School children enjoying some of the recipes at one of the training venues

First place prizes for WeRATE in Kenya - Trophies for ‘Best agro-based processing’ and ‘Best NGO exhibit’

The Western Region Agriculture Technology Evaluation (WeRATE) is the main N2Africa outreach partner in Kenya and presented an award-winning exhibit at the recently concluded Agriculture Society of Kenya (ASK) Kakamega Show (June 16th-18th, 2016). ...

Photo: Trophies presented by Busia Governor Sospeter Ojamong

Local seed businesses as an alternative route for seed access: Challenges faced in Uganda

In northern Uganda, N2Africa dissemination efforts through demonstrations, adaptations, media events and field days, amongst others, have created demand for grain legume technologies, especially improved soyabean varieties. However, there is a challenge to access the improved varieties from the formal seed systems, because they hardly deal in grain legume seed. ...

Figure: Discussing the poor seed germination rate at the field of Mrs Dorcus

Comparing yields and some yield components of common bean from intercropping and rotations with maize in the northern highlands of Tanzania

The aim of my study is to unravel the contributions of genetic, environmental and management related factors to common bean yield and nitrogen fixation. I am conducting a continuous cropping study, which involves rotations and intercropping of common bean with maize for six seasons and compare the performance of two bean varieties; namely improved Lyamungu 90 and local Mkanamna. ...

Gladness Pius Lema, a trained casual labour, assisting Eliakira Kisetu in counting bean grains at harvest in Hai district, Tanzania

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

Related Publications

Genome-Enabled Prediction Models for Yield Related Traits in Chickpea
M., Roorkiwal, A., Rathore, R.R., Das, R R, M.K., Singh, A., Jain, S., Srinivasan, P.M., Gaur, B., Chellapilla, S., Tripathi, Y., Li, J.M., Hickey, A., Lorenz, T., Sutton, J., Crossa, J.L. Jannink and R.K., Varshney. (2016). Frontiers in Plant Science, 7 (1666). 01-13. ISSN 1664-462X

A day in the life of N2Africa

On the WhatsApp group of N2Africa a discussion showed up on February 1st 2017. We wanted to share it as it signals how we find issues that need attention.

Image: The woman is on strike - won’t thresh her soyabeans, why? Low market price..., low demand...

Soyabean farmers in Ghana face challenges in the sale of their produce

Soyabean has become an important crop in northern Ghana over the past decade, where it is grown mainly by smallholder farmers. It is an important source of edible oil and source of high quality protein for both human and livestock. The residues after extracting the oil is an excellent source of high quality protein for the poultry, pig and the fish industries where it is in high demand. ...

Photo: Bags of unsold soyabean grains in a farmer’s store room in Yendi, Ghana

Application of phosphorus fertilizer and rhizobium inoculation improves grain and haulm nutritional values of selected grain legumes in the mixed crop-livestock production system of Ethiopia

Grain legumes are the second largest cultivated crops in Ethiopia next to cereals in terms of total production volume yield and area coverage. A similar scenario is reported for annual crop residue production from grain legumes. But both grain and haulm production from grain legumes are below their potential and need to be improved through different approach like developing new varieties and adhering to better agronomic practices to exploit the genetic potential of the plants. ...

Figure: Sample processing and analysis for quality parameters at Animal Nutrition Laboratory of ILRI, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

Partner Profile: Global Change Learning Lab highlights participatory legume-based research in Malawi
The Global Change Learning Lab is an integrative web-based site that facilitates research and information sharing by global change scientists and partners collaborating on action research in Sub Saharan Africa. The learning lab website is designed to both inform and engage research partners, extension educators, and the public. Many collaborators are engaged in agricultural research for development efforts focusing on the role of legumes in smallholder systems. The website highlights challenges facing smallholder farmers primarily in Malawi and explores interdisciplinary, participatory action research and agroecological approaches to support farmers as they face global change forces such as resource degradation, globalization, and climate change. ...

Global Change Learning Lab participatory soil characterization exercise

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.

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

Related newsletters
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. ...

N2Africa featured in New Agriculturalist

In the latest issue of the New Agriculturalist which has a special focus on soils there is a feature highlighting N2Africa. See: Helping legumes become Africa's nitrogen factories

In Zimbabwe, Isaac Chabata has recently joined the N2Africa team as Farm Liaison Officer.

Isaac is an agronomist with more than 10 years of experience in rural development, food security and agricultural projects. Isaac has worked for the Department of Agriculture Technical Research and Extension in the Ministry of Agriculture in Zimbabwe. He has also worked for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), USAID – FEWS NET, and the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society. He has experience in all the stages of agricultural and soil fertility projects, he has provided a wide range of trainings for farmers and extension workers and has experience in research, M&E and impact assessment. 

He holds a Bachelor of Science honours degree in Agriculture, Crop Science from the University of Zimbabwe, a Diploma in Agriculture, a Certificate in Agriculture, and an Executive Certificate in Project and Program Monitoring and Evaluation. Isaac Chabata is happily married and has three kids.

The value of Inoculants

Click here for a useful document from the USA on the use of rhizobial inoculants.

SG2000 partnership with N2Africa in Nigeria

Sasakawa Global 2000 is an international NGO established in 1986 in Sudan and Ghana by late Ryoichi Sasakawa (a Japanese Philanthropist) with Nobel Laureate, Dr Norman Borlaug and former US President Jimmy Carter. SG2000 works in close collaboration with national agricultural extension services, improving their field operational effectiveness and strengthening their human resources. ...

Photo: Participants discussing and exchanging ideas at different locations on the demo farm

Brief story of N2Africa Phase II launch in Nigeria

March 7 2014 was a memorable date for IITA Kano station and Nigeria legume farmers. N2Africa Phase II was launched in Kano city. The benefit of Phase I of the project were; farmers are convinced about yield enhancement effect the use of rhizobium inoculant in soya bean production in Nigeria and are ready to adopt the practice as a practicable way of generating more income. Luckily, Nigeria has been designated as one of the core countries in Phase II.

Kenya update

At the start of Phase II, a model for indirect dissemination is being formulated. Established Action Site partners are maintained and six new development partners willing to disseminate recommended N2Africa technologies have been identified. ...

NoduMax: a new legume inoculant in West Africa
IITA and N2Africa are exploring commercial inoculant production through its recently established Business Incubation Platform (BIP). A new building was constructed at the BIP that has ample room to accommodate different inoculant production lines and scales of operation. The factory consists of a warehouse area, a carrier preparation room, a station where broth is prepared and mixed with carrier, a curing room, a product storage room, and a quality control laboratory.  ...


Smallholder farmer’s brace for improved productivity of groundnut and market access in Uganda

Smallholder farmers have started embracing knowledge gained from the N2Africa project to improve groundnut production in Minakulu, Oyam district, Northern Uganda. World Vision Uganda engaged with 60 smallholder farmers ...

Photo: World Vision’s Farmer field school facilitator (bending) examining groundnut pegging on one the on-farm demonstration trials in Minakulu Variety demonstrations

Using the search function on the N2Africa website

The website is made more accessible recently. You will find the content is better organised and the search function has improved. To get the most out of your search you can use AND and OR searches. To assist you Marcel Lubbers wrote some guidelines for this function.

Certificate granted to N2Africa for its roles and partnership in “research and development”

In Ethiopia, N2Africa project activities are implemented in 27 Woredas (Districts) over four regions (Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Oromia and Southern region) in partnership with national, international and private institutions and NGOs, thus promoting N2-fixation and legume production technologies among smallholder farmers. ...

Figure: Certificate issued to N2Africa in recognition of its roles and contribution in promoting N2fixation and legume production technology in the Bale Zone of Oromia region, Ethiopia (the certificate reads in Oromiffa and Amharic languages).

Improved Early Education N2Africa Style

BNF outreach in west Kenya now includes working through local primary schools to install simple legume technology demonstrations and hold low cost farmer field days around them. This move was spontaneous, ...

Photo: Dick Morgan Ongai of the MFAGRO farmer organization in Vihiga with students of Munugi Primary School

Legume genotypes x rhizobium strains interaction in common bean and chickpea
An update on the objective (To screen effective, competitive and host broad spectrum of common bean and chickpea rhizobia for use in African soils) and main activities and methods to achieve the objective and results so far from Ashenafi Hailu Gunnabo
N2Africa joins multi-stakeholder partnership to support soyabean sector development in Tanzania

Participants to the launch of Soybean Innovation Platform with Dr Jackson Nkuba, representative of PS, in suit on the front row

"Partnership will address challenges facing farmers in the production and marketing of soyabean in the country"

An innovation platform that brings together all the stakeholders along soyabean value chain from farmers to government and non-government organizations and the private sector to address the challenges facing soyabean sector development in Tanzania was launched on 13 May 2015 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. ...

N2Africa Pushes for Improved Soyabean Technologies at Malawi Agriculture Fair

The Malawian Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Allan Chiyembekeza, is urging players in the agricultural sector to take modern technology to farmers and help Malawi move from a predominantly importing nation to an exporting one.

With this message he opened the 12th National Agriculture Fair, held from 27th-29th August 2015 with the theme "Accelerating Agriculture for Economic transformation." ...

Photo: A young man, Macklean Mafubza gets to read an N2Africa publication from the IITA stand


Courses and meetings:

CDI course Making agriculture work for food and nutrition security 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, November 07-18

XXVII Latin-American Rhizobiology Meeting (XXVII RELAR) 2016, Londrina, Brazil, June 06-09

FSD Course 2016, Montpellier, France, July 12-16

N2Africa project Nigeria: Reflections on 2015 Season

The 2015 season commenced with a bee hive of activities after the Annual Review and Planning Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria. The driving force for these activities was the new engagements with private actors (NGOs) in the value chain to further expand the intensity of N2Africa activities, ...

Photo: Mrs. Esther Chinedu (FLO) demonstrating handling and application of inoculants

Women’s position, dietary nutrient adequacy and nutritional status of children in Ghana

The prevalence of malnutrition in terms of stunting and wasting is high in rural Northern Ghana. Agriculture plays an important role in access to food, as agriculture represents the population’s main livelihood activity in the area. Hence, multiple programs (including N2Africa) aim to address malnutrition by increasing agricultural production. ...

Photo: Froukje interviewing female key stakeholders in Ghana (Photo Sofia Argyropoulou, 2015)

Recent publications from the Kenya action site

The country team in Kenya has produced three recent publications that may interest N2Africa partners in other countries. These publications include an article within an open access scientific journal, a book chapter on our Innovation Platform and a widely-distributed 48-page extension booklet covering our outreach operations:

Reviving groundnut production with fertilizers and AflasafeTM in Tanzania

Kongwa district has suitable climatic conditions for growing groundnut and is among the top producers in Tanzania. However, production is being threatened by many factors including declining soil fertility, the changing climate, lack of improved varieties and contamination with aflatoxin -...

Figure: Mr.Anfigwegwe Mwaipopo, a guest of honor, Kongwa District Officer

Co-design and implementation of improved climbing bean technologies in Uganda

A lot has happened since last year: the first paper of my PhD, entitled Understanding variability in soyabean yield and response to P-fertilizer and rhizobium inoculants on farmers’ fields in northern Nigeria got published in Field Crops Research (Podcaster 34), I largely finished the data collection in Uganda and I have entered the final year of my PhD, so I will focus on writing up the results. ...

Photo: Data collection in field of climbing beans, intercropped with banana and cassava (Kapchorwa, Uganda, 2014)

Related newsletters
N2Africa in the news

In the Daily Trust an article was published on IITA working with N2Africa on a robust agricultural schema with Borno Youth resulting in reduction of unemployment.

For those reading Dutch: an article was published in het Algemeen Dagblad with the title “Vlinderbloempje als hoop voor Afrika” (Legume flower as hope for Africa) using a photo of beans in experiments of Edouard Rurangwa.

N2Africa Ethiopia conducted its Fourth Annual Partners’ Review and Planning Workshop

N2Africa-Ethiopia has successfully conducted its Fourth Annual Partners’ Review and Planning Workshop during 16-17 March 2017 at ILRI Addis Ababa Campus. The Workshop has provided a National Learning and Experience sharing Platform for N2Africa Ethiopia partners from the four N2Africa target regions; Amhara, Benishangul Gumuz, Oromia and SNNPR. The workshop was conducted under the theme “Moving forward the legume technology and value chain for sustainable development”. ...

Photo: “Bus Stop” poster presentations from Jimma by Beza Erko

Light and nutrient capture by common bean and maize in the Northern Highlands of Tanzania
Beans and maize are important food and cash crops for farmers in the Northern highlands of Tanzania. They are often intercropped to achieve efficient land use, to avoid risk and to improve soil fertility. Farmers commonly alternate the rows of maize and beans one-by-one – or moja-moja in Swahili. ...
Can you re-close an ecosystem once it’s been opened? Reflections on the role of legumes in central DRC

As Nile and Brady’s classic text, The Nature and Properties of Soils notes, the slash-and-burn system is not inherently unsustainable. In theory, natural vegetation is cut and burned from a plot of land and crops are grown for several years until the nutrients, built up over years, have been used and yields begin to decline. The farmer then moves on to the next plot to continue the cycle. Only after an undefined period of time, after the original ‘slash’ plot has re-established natural growth and replenished soil organic matter and nutrient pools, does the farmer return to cultivate the plot. With an adequate land base and rotational cycle, new deforestation is avoided. ...

How do climbing beans fit in farming systems of the eastern highlands of Uganda? Opportunities and trade-offs at farm level
Climbing beans are a new crop for farmers in Kapchorwa district, on the northern slopes of Mt Elgon in Uganda. I assessed the effects of the introduction and expansion of climbing bean cultivation at the farm level: what contribution do climbing bean have to food self-sufficiency and income, and what are trade-offs in terms of investment costs and labour. ...

Food self-sufficiency (annual kcal required by household divided by kcal supplied by crops from farm (%)) per option. Numbers on the x-axis represent farm types 1-4, letters a-d the four farms within the type.

N2Africa publications

A number of publications has been published recently. Read on for the titles and links.

N2Africa experiences: Mozambique

owards 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

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. ...

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. ...

Advanced Course on Nitrogen Fixation held together with Wageningen University Graduate Schools

A PhD-level course entitled "The The legume-rhizobium symbiosis: From molecules to farmers’ fields" was held in Wageningen, The Netherlands, 18 - 22 October 2010. The course, organized by Wageningen University Graduate Schools, Production Ecology & Resource Conservation and Experimental Plant Sciences, was attended by 25 PhD students and postgraduate researchers, including most of the N2Africa core staff and two colleagues from the SIMLESA (Sustainable Intensification Of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems For Food Security In Eastern And Southern Africa) project.

N2Africa Ghana Planning Meeting Held

In anticipation of the imminent arrival of the rainy season in northern Ghana any time from the month of May, the annual N2Africa planning meeting was held to develop implementation work plan for the forth-coming season. The meeting was held in Tamale, the capital of the Northern Region, on 28-29 March 2011.

Soyabean best practices checklist in English and Swahili

Click here for checklists in English and Swahili on “Best practices to maintain high yield and grain quality of soyabean”.

Drawing lessons from the variability in climbing bean productivity in Rwanda

Climbing bean is a key crop in the northern Rwandan cropping system, grown by 95% of the interviewed households in the N2Africa baseline survey. N2Africa promotes the use of improved varieties and P based fertilizers in climbing bean cultivation in Rwanda. Through dissemination trials, farmers get the opportunity to test new climbing bean technologies. ... 

Rwanda update

In Rwanda the national project staff has been reduced to the country coordinator only. However, there are several partners involved in dissemination activities, inlucing DRD in the districts of Burera, and Gakenke, CARITAS Rwanda in Bugesera district, COCOF in Kamonyi district, and EPR in Kayonza. There are also informal partners such as Clinton Hunter Foundation and One Acre Fund (Tubura) who also have been actively disseminating N2Africa technologies outside the mandate zones of the project. ...

N2Africa Phase II launched in DR Congo

Since 2009, the N2Africa project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is working with smallholder farmers in the South and North Kivu Provinces in Eastern DR Congo to raise agricultural productivity and soil fertility through Biological Nitrogen Fixation (BNF), thereby improving the livelihoods of those farmers. The Howard G. Buffett Foundation (HGBF) grant, from 2012 to 2014, strengthened and extended N2Africa activities in Ruzizi plain/ South Kivu and Rutshuru & Masisi/ North Kivu, which are major agricultural zones with extensive agricultural land and human capital to enable sustainable agricultural development.  

February 3rd 2014, the IITA Kalambo station was hosting the planning meeting on the N2Africa project, Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa, Phase II under IITA coordination.

PhD story Michael Kermah: Exploring opportunities for sustainable intensification of grain legumes towards improving crop productivity, food security and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in northern Ghana

Field work was started in the Cropping season of 2013 from May to November 2013.

Two field trials have been conducted as follows and preliminary data analysis done: 1) Effect of intercropping patterns on biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) and crop productivity and 2) Effect of cowpea-maize relay intercropping on biological nitrogen fixation and crop productivity across fields of different soil fertility levels in northern Guinea and Sudan savanna agroecological zones of Ghana. ...

N2Africa and AfricaRice working to diversify and intensify the rice-based cropping systems of Kilombero valley in Tanzania

Kilombero Valley, located in south-central Tanzania, is a major rice production area with smallholder rice schemes occupying about 2,080 square kilometers. Rice production is largely based on rain-fed lowland cropping systems, where rice is grown over the wet season, and field left fallow over the dry season. Demographic growth and increased demand for land ...

Photo: A well performing demonstration on cowpea GAPs at Idete wardin Kilombero district.


Product development of NoduMax soyabean inoculant continues

NoduMax is a new legume inoculant for soyabean recently developed at the IITA Business Incubation Platform and the N2Africa Project. The inoculant contains >1 x 109Bradyrhizobium japonicum strain USDA 110 per g and is packaged in an alumino-laminate bag along with gum arabic adhesive and user instructions.

Photo: NoduMax team May 2014

N2Africa won an award as outstanding nutrition-sensitive scaling agriculture project!

In 2012, The World Bank Group launched the SecureNutrition Platform to bridge knowledge gaps between agriculture, food security and nutrition. Together with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Save the children UK, the SecureNutrition Knowledge Platform’s 2013 Harvesting Nutrition contest was initiated to showcase projects that link agriculture, food security and nutrition and their challenges. ...

Photo: Ilse de Jager and Theresa Ampadu-Boakye showing the award won by N2Africa

Hannah Boughton – a student studying for an MSc in Environmental Studies, Antioch University, New Hampshire, USA wrote to us “The N2Africa program was a great inspiration for me…

Today’s high school students have a myriad of things clamoring for their attention, many of which are far more interesting to them than their average classroom period. In light of this I wanted to create a science unit that was novel and meaningful to keep them engaged in learning topics from food chains to carbon cycling. I also had a broader goal of creating a learning environment that would lay the foundation for students to develop and practice the skills and knowledge necessary to become responsible global citizens. ...

Nigerian PhD Research update

I am Ojo Comfort Tinuade, one of the N2Africa PhD rstudents with Wageningen University and a Research Fellow with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan. My research interest is to explore the potential benefits of rhizobia inoculation with cowpea. My research activities includes estimating the population density of indigenous rhizobia in soil samples collected from Northern Nigeria, isolation and identification of highly competitive and efficient rhizobia strains from Nigerian soils.

BIOFIX and LEGUMEFiX inoculant products now registered in Tanzania

Inoculant products BIOFIX (from MEA Ltd - Kenya) and LEGUMEFiX (from Legume Technology Ltd - UK) are now registered in Tanzania as fertilizer supplements. This means that the two products can now be directly imported into Tanzania. Registration of these products follows efforts by the COMPRO-II project, which has collaborated with Tanzania Fertilizer Regulatory Authority (TFRA), N2Africa, and other stakeholders to develop registration guidelines for bio-fertilizers including rhizobium inoculants. ...

Photo: Packets of BIOFIX and LEGUMEFiX inoculants

Kick-starting commercial soyabean farming with Teso Farmers in Busia, Kenya

Teso Farmers is a farmers’ group cultivating soyabean in Busia Kenya. This group is linked to the platform WeRATE. George Otanga tells the story of how he commenced the group and how he envisages farmers can benefit from economies of scale in soyabean production.

CropLife Nigeria assesses contract sprayers in Borno State

Contract sprayers applying pesticides for a fee for farmers in Borno state in Nigeria do not follow responsible use practices, as became clear from conclusions of an assessment carried out by CropLife Nigeria on behalf of N2Africa. ...

Photo: Siji Ofoesuwa (in striped shirt) with some of the contract sprayers

The association between the diversity of crop production and nutritional indicators of rural households in Ghana

We investigated how household production diversity is correlated with dietary diversity and nutrition of infants and young children living in rural farming communities in northern Ghana. ...

Figure left: The study design shows how indicators are linked to production and consumption (Argyropoulou. 2015) 

Reports and other output uploaded on the N2Africa website

Five reports by N2Africa, two reports in collaboration with PROIntensAfrica, three MSc theses and one MSc Internship report have been uploaded. ...

Common bean seed multiplication and isolation of rhizobia nodulating common bean in Ethiopia

In order to examine the interaction between bean genotypes and rhizobium strains nodulating bean, seed of 29 different bean varieties that represent a great genetic diversity were obtained from CIAT, Colombia. They were multiplied in a screenhouse on soil samples collected from potential bean growing areas in Sidama, Ethiopia. ...

Picture: Strains growing on YMA-BTP


On January 18th, 2017, the world will celebrate pulses! Global Pulse Day will be celebrated every year to promote the nutritional and environmental benefits of pulses. Submit ideas for Global Pulse Day on January 18th, 2017.

Related newsletters
Common bean yield potential and yield gaps in Ethiopia and Tanzania

Common bean is an important crop in Ethiopia and Tanzania but the national average yield is small (respectively 0.9, and 0.8 ton ha-1; source FAO), indicating that large opportunities exists for intensification of common bean production systems. Assessment of yield potential and yield gaps could help to provide insight in opportunities to increase productivity of common bean.

Figure: Relative yields (actual yield/water limited potential yield*100) of common bean in different regions in Ethiopia. Red indicates low relative yield, and green a high relative yield.

Radio for channelling information
On the 30th of March 2017, N2Africa and a group of other Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded agronomy projects with a focus on maize, cassava, highland banana and legumes came together with Farm Radio International. All these partners met to share their knowledge and predictions about soils, crops and yields, and Farm Radio International aims to communicate this information to farmers at scale. ...
A new guide to maize-legume systems

The Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) have just released an all-encompassing guide on maize-legume cropping systems with major contributions from N2Africa. The guide aims to provide all the most important information needed to design and implement effective systems which combine maize and legumes, with a primary focus on maize. The overall objective is to provide guidance on how to achieve sustainable increases ...
Reports uploaded on the N2Africa website

Many MSc and MPhil theses and Internship reports have been submitted. Read on for the full list and the links.

ACOF and N2Africa: the soyabean partnership

Agro Commercial Olinda Fondo (ACOF) is a woman-headed agribusiness company based in Mocuba District of Zambezia Province in Mozambique. ACOF produces and markets soyabeans and maize, selling mostly to the poultry industry. To supplement its own production, ACOF has an outgrower scheme involving women smallholder farmer groups in several districts ...

Photo: Wilson Leonardo showing a farmer how to thin a soyabean field for optimal density (Photo credits Wilson Leonardo)

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


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. ...

Nigeria Holds Annual Planning Meeting

The N2Africa 2011 planning meeting was held in Kano, Nigeria, on 23-24 March 2011. The meeting was attended by about 50 participants, made up of staff from N2Africa and partners from international organisations, governmental and non-governmental organisations, research institutes, universities and the private sector. Participants reviewed the activities of the previous year, drawing lessons from challenges, successes and failures and developed an implementation work plan for the 2011 season. 

N2Africa proposes standards for inoculant quality

N2Africa proposes standards for quality of inoculants to be adopted across countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, none of the original eight countries targeted by N2Africa has regulations in place that specify requirements for the quality of inoculants, though several countries are in the process of establishing such regulatory framework. ...


Figure: The proposed grades and quality standards of legume inoculants under the N2Africa universal logo



Murdoch University poster award 2013 for Aliyu Anchau Abdullahi

Aliyu Anchau Abdullahi was awarded the prize in "Plant Diseases and Crop Improvement" category at the 2013 Postgraduate Poster Day (An annual event) held at Murdoch University WA, on Friday 8th November, 2013. The prize was provided by the Department of Agriculture and food, Western Australia (DAFWA) in support of PhD students at Murdoch University.

Title of the poster is: Exploring the genetic diversity of groundnut-nodulating rhizobia in moist and dry savannas of Nigeria for increased symbiotic nitrogen fixation and productivity.

Full version of the poster.




Exploring the genetic diversity of groundnut-nodulating rhizobia in moist and dry savannas of Nigeria for increased symbiotic nitrogen fixation and productivity

My PhD study aims at exploring the genetic diversity of groundnut-nodulating rhizobia and identifying promising strains for inoculant production to benefit the farmers and all stakeholders in groundnut production and utilization. I enrolled for the programme in the Centre for Rhizobium Studies (CRS), Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia in February, 2013. ...
Presenting the first six months report of Phase II

N2Africa Phase II is going full speed ahead, and we’ve already had our first round of reporting to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In the first months of N2Africa Phase II, we have made good progress towards Objective 1 - Project strategy, coordination and implementation and capacity strengthening. Country teams were formed and soon after involved in many meetings and workshops. In addition, an overall technical expertise team, leading activities across all countries, has been established. With this flying start ...

N2Africa DRC forms more partnerships and continues Rhizobiology activities

On 29th July 2014, the N2Africa DRC team attended a workshop  to plan activities for the Mega Program Humid Tropics. Many organizations and their partners joined this meeting to familiarize themselves with the activities undertaken by every program or project, to detect the complementarities between these projects/programs and to identify the gaps to be covered for the East of DR Congo.

On 30th July 2014, the N2Africa DRC team and the direction team of Women for Women (WfWi) met at IITA’s Kalambo station (photo).

Research prize for DR Congo at the 16th conference of African Association of Biological Nitrogen Fixation in Rabat Morocco

During this conference the last day of the congress, I presented summary results of my two papers and posters on "Improving shelf life of legume inoculant in East Africa". And ‟Performance of Indigenous Rhizobia Strains on grain yield of two Promiscuous Varieties of Soyabean in South-Kivu soil". ...

Photo: During presentation and discussion with the audience chaired by Prof. Felix Dakora

MOOC Summercourse

In January-March there was the possiblity to follow the Wageningen MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) on "Growing our future food: crops" via edX. This succesfull six weeks course, that brings you knowlegde to understand and quantify the basic agricultural proceses, will also be offered as Summer Course. Part of the course material is filmed at N2Africa locations. The start date for this course will be June 15th and access will be available until September 25th. To follow this course you need to subscribe to edX, where the course will be announced very soon. Updates will also be published on the N2Africa website.

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

In Rwanda like in many sub-Saharan Africa countries, increasing population hence reduction of farm size, declining soil fertility and high fertilizer cost have been reported as major production constraints for smallholder farmers. The use of organic inputs and biological nitrogen fixation are alternative to cut down fertilizer costs. Rwandan government has recently set a policy of one cow per poor family in one hand to deal with soil fertility issues. In this study we explored the benefits of using manure and inoculation for increased nitrogen fixation and yields of bean and soyabean, and manure showed the ability to sustain productivity without repeated inoculation. ...

News from Legume Technology

Legume Technology has now achieved registration in Kenya and Tanzania. After several years of trials showing excellent results the LEGUMEFiX brand of rhizobium inoculants will now be available for commercial sales. It is hoped that LEGUMEFiX will be available to smallholders and commercial growers in both Tanzania and Kenya within a few months. Distributors are in the process of gathering market information and assessing the interest in our products so they can forecast sales and manage stock levels available for sale in both Tanzania and Kenya. ...

PhD update: Response of Groundnut varieties to Rhizobia inoculation in the Sudan and northern Guinea savannas of Nigeria

My names are Umar, Faruk Galadanchi. I enrolled for my PhD programme at Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria in the 2013/2014 session. I developed my research topic and got the approval of my supervisory team, which consists of Prof. Ado A. Yusuf, Prof. Jibrin M. Jibrin, Dr. Abdelaziz Abdelgadir (IITA based supervisor) in collaboration with Dr. Babu N. Motagi (ICRISAT-Kano Station), to start the field work. ...

N2Africa Borno State: Youth Agripreneur activities
  The overall goal of the Borno Youth Agripreneur activities is to re-orientate rural youths towards more productive engagement in agriculture. ...
An erratum of sorts

In Podcaster 34 of last year, we reported on progress on our data flows. As an example of how fast data turnover enables timely learning, we presented results of a 2015 climbing bean diagnostic trial in Uganda. After seeing the results, the Uganda team kindly pointed out that the data used for the analysis contained an error ...

Graph showing mean yields for different treatments per district in the same diagnostic trial in Uganda

Related publications

Soyabean booklet in Afan Oromo (among the widely spoken languages in Ethiopia), produced in collaboration with project partners (OARI, 2SCALE, and Guts Agro).

Reports and other output uploaded on the N2Africa website

The N2Africa Baseline report was published for Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, establishing the initial status of livelihoods through assessment of household characteristics, agricultural production, nutrition and market access. The report provides a benchmark against which the project will be able to assess the progress and achievements towards the end of the project.

The N2Africa M&E and Data Management Master Plan is finished and made available. With this Master Plan, a strategic framework allowing for timely feedback loops, desired level of consistency in design (of research and dissemination) and data collection to allow for meta-analyses across all N2Africa countries is emphasised. It also allows for learning across all focal areas of the project, i.e. agronomy, rhizobiology, dissemination, platforms, gender and communications. As it is a living document updates are to be expected based on progress made.

Genotype x Environment interaction in soyabean breeding under rhizobia inoculation in the savanna region of Nigeria

Despite the importance of soyabean in Nigeria, yields on farmers’ fields have remained relatively low. The crop holds considerable potential for arresting soil fertility decline and enhancing household food nutrition. Therefore, this study aimed to exploit differences among soyabean genotypes, assess genotype environment effect on seed yield and rhizobia inoculation as a means of improving nitrogen fixation and productivity of soyabean across three locations in the savanna region of Nigeria. ...

Picture: Kehinde Tolorunse masuring the chlorophyll content using the spad meter for the purpose of determining the greenish of the leaves

N2Africa website renewed

Recently, the N2Africa website has been migrated to a new version of the content management system Drupal. This was done to improve security and performance. Furthermore, the intranet part of the N2Africa website has been separated from the public part. Therefore, the URL of the intranet part has been changed to:

To a great extent the functionality of the user interface has stayed the same. However please, let us know whenever you encounter problems.

Related publications

With the tremendous contributions made by dozens of pulse scientists from around the world, the final 10-Year Research Strategy for Pulse Crops was completed in December (see link). It shows a rich picture of the tremendous potential of pulse crops and the key arenas for research investment.
On January 18th it was Global Pulse Day and the social media campaign appeared to be a phenomenal success.

A paradigm shift from grassroots to agribusiness focus in west Kenya

As we enter the final year of N2Africa Phase 2 activities, the outreach team in west Kenya shifts strategically from promotion of BNF technologies at the grassroots level to working more closely with the agribusinesses that produce and market them. This move reinforces the commercial momentum in the delivery of BNF products, particularly inoculants, blended fertilizers and certified legume seed, beyond the project’s lifetime. Toward this end, ...

Photo: Participants at the launch of the One Stop Shop Operation Mechanism (OSSOM) in west Kenya, March 2017

N2Africa publications

Effectiveness of rhizobia strains isolated from South Kivu soils (Eastern D.R. Congo) on nodulation and growth of soybeans (Glycine max)”, written by Bintu Nabintu Ndusha, Nancy K. Karanja, Paul L. Woomer, Jean Walangululu, Gustave N. Mushagalusa and Jean Marie Sanginga, has been published in the March, 2017 issue of African Journal of Soil Science.

Thanks to N2Africa Uganda

A PhD student from Warwick, after hearing Ken Giller talk about N2Africa at her University, opted for a 10 day research placement within N2Africa and was given the opportunity to visit N2Africa Uganda. After her return she wrote:

I returned from Uganda this week. I must say I have been amazed by the work that is done there! It is an incredible idea and the science communication is excellent! The team of N2AFRICA seems to be very carefully chosen. Inspiring, strong people that love their job and they taught me a lot.


Understanding GL x GR interaction in common bean and chickpea in Ethiopia

Chickpea genotype
ICC13187 inoculated with LMG14989

Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) and chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) are the most important grain legumes in Ethiopia. Most of the Ethiopian soils are deficient of soil nitrogen, thereby reducing crop production far below potential. ...
Related newsletters

Interesting news from ASHC, GALA, SAWBO, Forages for the future, FAO, ICRISAT and IITA ...

Strategic scenario to close the gaps identified in Rwanda

N2Africa activities were initially introduced in three provinces, namely Eastern, Northern, and Southern Provinces of Rwanda. In Phase 2, activities were scaled up in Western Province by partners operating there.

BNF technologies promoted by N2Africa in Rwanda were centered around two legume species: common bean (bush and climbing), and soyabean.

Picture: Carte administrative de Rwanda


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.

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

TechnoServe Boletim Informativo Soja-nr.2

The Soya team from TechnoServe sent us their newsletter in Portugese.

Boletim Informativo SOJA-nr.2, Boletim Soja Suplemento nr.2

MSc thesis on quality control of legume inoculant on bean and soyabean in East and Central Africa: Isaac Balume from DRC

I did my MSc in Sustainable Soil Resource Management sponsored by N2Africa. After successfully following one year of course work ...



Photo: Serial dilution and plating

Symbiotic effectiveness of indigenous Bradyrhizobium strains and strategies to maximize the contribution of Biological Nitrogen Fixation on soyabean in Mozambique

Update on PhD research.

The major accomplishment by April 2014 include meeting the University credit requirements and harvesting the screening trial from which promising isolates will be selected and tested in the field both in Brazil and Mozambique in 2014/15 and 2015/16 cropping seasons. Soyabean nodules from 15 locations in Mozambique were brought to Brazil in April 2013. ...

Photo: Amaral Chibeba determining total N content

MSc research Usambara Mountains, Tanzania: Continued story parts 3 and 4

Did you read the stories of our MSc students Jori Langwerden and Elise Bressers that were published before on N2Africa Facebook on February 3rd and March 3rd?

Some of the best photos of these stories are published here again.

Left: active nodules


Other N2Africa reports published recently

On June 30th the report on Media events in N2Africa (related to Milestone 4.4.4) was published. It tells about ways that were used so far to get the N2Africa message disseminated widely.

Results from demonstration plots on inoculation of climbing bean combined with different methods of staking. in Rwanda

During the long rains season (March – July 2014), 5 demo plots were established in the Northern province of Rwanda in collaboration with N2Africa partner DRD and farmers’ associations and individual farmers as well, with the objective of promoting the best method of staking and the use of inoculants on climbing bean. Results have showed a good response to inoculants in all sites and on all varieties used. ...

Photo: Sisal strings method in Kinoni site



N2Africa at the annual meeting of the CGIAR Consortium for Spatial Information

At the end of September I attended the annual meeting of the CGIAR Consortium for Spatial Information (CSI). The meeting was supposed to be part of the African Agricultural GIS Week in Accra, Ghana but was relocated to ITC in Enschede due to Ebola fears.

The meeting provided an opportunity to show some of the spatial analysis work that we are conducting in N2Africa. I presented ...

Ethiopian case study of adoption domains for N2africa published in the Atlas of African Agriculture Research and Development
We have just published a case study of the adoption domains for N2Africa using chickpeas in Ethiopia as an example. Our maps and analysis show how we have combined three different factors - population density, access to chickpea markets, and agro-ecological zone - that affect the adoption of chickpeas in Ethiopia.

Our submission to the atlas has four maps as well as explanations of what these are maps telling us, why this is important and information about the underlying data.

You can view our submission here.

N2Africa in the news

Please see for a news report.

Although I always argue that benefits from nitrogen fixation should be seen as an additional source of N rather than a substitute, journalists seem to prefer to state the alternative!

Ken Giller

Effect of intercropping patterns on crop productivity across fields of different soil fertility in northern Guinea and Sudan savannah agroecological zones of Ghana

Two on-farm trials were conducted in the 2013 and 2014 cropping seasons in the northern Guinea savannah agroecological zone (AEZ 1) and the Sudan savannah agroecological zone (AEZ 2) of Ghana to evaluate the effect of intercropping patterns and the effect of cowpea-maize relay intercropping on crop productivity. The intercropping patters were within-row intercropping and 1:1 and 2:2 distinct rows of maize- legume (Figure 1a, b). The legumes tested included cowpea, soyabean and groundnut. The trials were conducted across fields of different soil fertility levels. In this article, radiation interception and land equivalent ratios of the different intercropping systems are discussed.  ...

WeRATE R4D Platform Shines at the Agriculture Society of Kenya Kakamega Show

The Agriculture Society of Kenya (ASK) proved a great way to disseminate messages to farmers in the West Kenya Action Area shared by the N2Africa, Humidtropics and IFAD Cassava Projects. ...

Photo: Soyabean varieties were demonstrated to farmers with and without the N2Africa recommended technology package

The Agriculture Society of Kenya (ASK) proved a great way to disseminate messages to farmers in the West Kenya Action Area shared by the N2Africa, Humidtropics and IFAD Cassava Projects. The Western Region Agriculture Technology Evaluation (WeRATE), an R4D Platform working closely with IITA, participated fully in this show, advancing its theme "Enhancing Technology in Agriculture and Industry for Food Security" through field demonstrations, sales of improved seeds and cuttings as well as other inputs, and exhibition of value-adding technologies. Numerous organizations from government, research, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector and others were also represented at this show running from 17 through 20 June 2015. ...

Introducing Minke Stadler

This month, Minke Stadler joined N2Africa as a research fellow. She wil be analyzing data, developing reports, and giving support where needed.

Minke holds a MSc. in Human Resource Management and a MSc. in Farming Systems Ecology. She worked for twelve years as a consultant, providing advisory services in the field of project management and talent development.

Last June, she graduated at the Wageningen University (CGIAR-program in Barotse floodplain, Zambia). ...

IITA Special issue on Youth Agripreneurs

Last December a special issue of the IITA newsletter, dedicated to N2Africa Youth Agripreneurs was released.

N2Africa in the news

The IITA Bulletin 2319 published articles how N2Africa helps farmers in Nigeria and Borno State gain access to markets and agro inputs...

Ken Giller of Wageningen University gave a presentatoin at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington in February. He was interviewed by a journalist, Alison Takemura and the interview was posted on the blog "The Plate" of National Geographic. ...

Related publications

New reports have been uploaded for the ESRC-DFID project that we introduced in Podcaster 36. More are to be expected in the near future.

Moritz Reckling, N2Africa MSc student at Wageningen University in 2011-2013, now working at the Leibniz centre for Agriculture Research in Germany described a win-win situation for environment and economy when growing Legumes in the Daily Nations’ Seeds of Gold.

Beyond averages: New approaches to understand heterogeneity and risk of technology success or failure in smallholder farming, a publication by B. Vanlauwe, R. Coe and K.E. Giller was published in Cambridge University Press 2016. This paper describes the challenges facing research, highlighting the importance of variation in evaluating the performance of soil management recommendations, integrating aspects of production risk management within the formulation of recommendations, and proposing alternative approaches to implement agronomic R4D.

Related newsletters
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


Virtual symposium, “Nitrogen: At the Nexus Between Food Security and Sustainability.”
This on-line, real time symposium will be held on March 8 & 9, 2017 from 9am-11:30am US Pacific Time, and is hosted by Michael Udvardi of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, USA, and John Peters of Washington State University, USA. ...

MOOC Feeding a Hungry Planet: Agriculture, Nutrition and Sustainability
The SDG Academy is launching a new MOOC (massive open online course) on March 20, 2017...

Other N2Africa activities

On behalf of N2Africa Theresa Ampadu-Boakye and Ken Giller contributed to the Virtual Symposium “Nitrogen: At the Nexus Between Food Security and Sustainability”. About 100 participants worldwide joined.

Ken Giller also presented N2Africa in a WURtalk at Wageningen University & Research for 100 interested people. His lecture, under the subject Nature's Nitrogen, was entitled N2Africa - When technology escapes the laboratory. This lecture will be available on the internet soon.

Other N2Africa activities

As mentioned in the previous Podcaster Ken Giller presented N2Africa in a WUR talk. The link to this WUR talk is available on YouTube.

Related newsletters
Maize-grain legume intercropping for enhanced resource use efficiency and crop productivity in the Guinea savanna of northern Ghana
Smallholder farmers in the Guinea savanna agroecological zone of northern Ghana practise maize-grain legume intercropping to mitigate the risks of crop failure in sole cropping, and to safeguard household food, nutrition and income security. ...

Spatial arrangement of maize-grain legume intercropping patterns that were tested: (A) maize-legume sown within-row (mixed), (B) one row of maize alternated with one row of legume (1 to 1 rows) and (C) two rows of maize alternated with two rows of legume (2 to 2 rows)


The Matasa Fellows Network announced a call for young African researchers to apply to become a fellow. See the announcement here.

DRD partnering into the future
Current approach
N2Africa’s partnership with DRD (Developpement Rural Durable) has been focused on the production of climbing beans. It has been a fruitful collaboration. Before the partnership, many farmers used only local bean varieties with low production, and with limited skills in agronomic practices, whereas now farmers have adopted improved practices. ...
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

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

N2Africa and its impact on human nutrition

Both protein-energy malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are highly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, especially among children and women of reproductive age. Undernutrition results in substantial increases in overall disease burden and mortality, decreases in intellectual development and reduction in productivity and economic development. ...

Photo: Ilse doing height measurements

Does the interaction of the indigenous and exotic rhizobia in contrasting Zimbabwean soil conditions result in superior individuals worthy of selection as inoculant strains

Soyabean has been grown since the early 20th century in Zimbabwe with inoculation beginning during the 1960’s. Developments in crop and inoculation technology have progressively increased coverage to present day where inoculant and improved seed are available in every rural province in the country. While the seed industry has benefited from rigorous breeding programmes, inoculation has continued with a narrow range of exotic strains that display superior nitrogen fixation but may be challenged by the local agro-ecologies across the country. ...

Africa Business Leadership Training Center offers online and distance learning certificate courses

We received a message that the Africa Business Leadership Training Center is organizing online and distance learning certificate courses, to be conducted from 1st  April 2014 to 1st June 2014.

The marketing modules seem interesting for country coordinators, agronomists, BDOs considering the direction N2Africa is taking. The text of the announcement and the information on the Marketing Certificate Course are available to those who want to know more.

Humidtropics conference

Humidtropics is organizing an International Conference on Integrated Systems for Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture, 7-10 October 2014 in Ibadan, Nigeria. For the conference website, poster and announcement follow this link.

Kenya Update: Now operating within Tier 1

In Kenya the five main objectives are 1) expanding awareness of BNF technologies, 2) dissemination of proven BNF and grain legume production technologies, 3) conduct training in BNF technologies, 4) design field demonstrations of N2Africa best practice that are conducted by others, and 5) backstop Kenya’s inoculant industry. Here is a brief description of our approach to each objective. ...

Photo: Performance of SC Squire at Ongai Farm, Vihiga  


Visit N2Africa Project Coordinator to DR Congo

N2Africa coordinator Fred Kanampiu visited N2Africa activities in DR Congo from October 6th to 10th, 2014.

This article tells about the highlights of his visit.

Photo: Agrodealer shop Pharmacie Lobiko Bukavu

Cowpea-maize relay cropping. A method for sustainable agricultural intensification in northern Ghana?

Wytze Marinus did his MSc thesis research in Karaga district, part of the Northern Region and in Kassena Nankana district, Upper East Region, food insecure districts where considerable population growth rates will lead to increased demand for food production and higher pressure on agricultural lands. A clear need exists for sustainably increasing crop yields in this area where maize is the most important cereal and one of the most important staple crops. He focussed on cowpea in the cowpea-maize relay cropping.

Reports uploaded on the N2Africa website

Andrew Farrow wrote, with support of the country coordinators of the Core Countries, a background report pointing out the action areas for Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda in 2014.

A compact report with condensed information on the project progress made in Year 1 of Phase II has been uploaded on our website.

An MSc internship report on "Adoption constraints with climbing beans in Kashambua subcounty, Uganda" by Bharathwaj Shridhar.

Common bean and response to rhizobial strains on different soil types in Uganda

Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is one of the most important grain legumes in Uganda. It forms an important part of the traditional diet and provides a good source of income for the rural communities. Experiments with rhizobial inoculation on beans in East Africa have met with varying success. One possible explanation is that common bean can establish effective symbiosis with broad range of native rhizobia. The role of this so-called promiscuity in the irregular response to inoculation remains to be established. It is currently not known how the composition of the rhizobial population in soil affects nitrogen fixation in common bean. ...

ISRIC soil maps for Kapchorwa

Watch out for “Predatory Open Access Journals”!

The number of predatory journals is spiraling. A "predatory journal" is a fake journal that will publish just about anything written as long as you pay a fee. They have no proper peer-review or editorial procedures. Wikipedia provides a good description: see

Message from Pamela Anderson, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the launch of AgriKnowledge

Dear grantees and partners,

I’m excited to inform you about the launch of AgriKnowledge – an online portal to publically share learnings from grants and contracts funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s agricultural development team.

The URL is: ...

NoduMax in 2015

The first set of NoduMax legume inoculant developed by IITA and N2Africa at the Business Incubation Platform (BIP, IITA-headquarters, Ibadan, Nigeria) has been released for distribution to soyabean farmers during the rainy season 2015. ...

Photo: A view of a farmer field inoculated with NoduMax


The 2016 Brian Chambers award is open to researchers in crop nutrition: £2,000 in prizes!

The International Fertiliser Society is again running the Brian Chambers award. Researchers working in both academic and extension organisations are encouraged to take part. The 2016 award is now open for submissions, and will remain open until September 15th, 2016.

Detailed information can be found at

7th International Nitrogen Conference (INI 2016), Victoria, Australia. 04 – 08 December 2016

The conference’s over-arching theme – Solutions to improve nitrogen use efficiency for the world – aims to address "The Nutrient Nexus" of reducing nutrient losses while producing food and energy for all of our human family.

For more information see

Related news

KIT (Royal Tropical Institute) and SNV published an interesting working paper "Market-based solutions for input supply: 12 making inputs accessible for smallholder farmers in Africa".

Assessing the need for rhizobial inoculation of cowpea in Nigeria savannas

Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is a major staple in Nigeria. Despite this, its yield has remained low at 450 kg ha-1 (Omotosho, 2014). ...

Figure: Map of locations in Nigeria Savannas where soil samples were collected

Related newsletters

CIAT blog: Platform for Big Data in Agriculture;
Tropical Legumes III updates: Strengthening the groundnut value chain in Uganda and Tropical Legumes III: Strategies for wider reach and deeper impacts;
Soybean Innovation Lab Newletters : February and March 2017;
Africa Soil Health: OFRA: Announcing new book on Fertilizer Use Optimization in Sub-Saharan Africa;
GALA newsletter no. 2;
And more...

N2Africa in the news

IITA news: Partnerships for perpetuity: N2Africa consolidates PPPs as plans for exit strategy progresses;


Consultants for the Global Crop Diversity Brigitte Maass and Bruce Pengelly shared a new edition of the Newsletter on “Forages for the Future”.

The newsletter is meant to start re-building a community that is interested and engaged in tropical and subtropical forage genetic resources, their conservation and utilization. ...


Enhancing the yield and quality of cowpea fodder through inoculation and phosphorus fertilizer application in northern Ghana

Effect of rhizobium inoculation and phosphorus fertilizer application on fodder yield (A) and digestibility (B) of three cowpea varieties in SGS and NGS of northern Ghana

Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is an important crop in the mixed crop livestock systems of northern Ghana since it supplies protein to the human diets, fodder to livestock, and it captures nitrogen into the farming system through biological nitrogen fixation. Cowpea fodder for feeding livestock is traded for cash and animal manure by farmers in northern Ghana. ...
COCOF and the soyabean value chain


The original French article is accessible via the English summary.

COCOF is a Rwandese organization created in 1994 by a group of rural women from the district of Kamonyi, with the aim to promote the socio, economic and political development of women. To date COCOF has 482 women members and 5881 beneficiaries with 68% women and 32% men. Beneficiaries are grouped in cooperatives.

Photo: Assamblée générale de COCOF

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

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. ...

SDSN report on Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems

N2Africa received the report of the SDSN Thematic Group 7 on Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. It can be downloaded from this link.

Investigating Suboptimal Nitrogen Fixation in Phaseolus vulgaris

Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean) is an important food crop in many parts of Africa. Its yield is often hampered by nitrogen deficiency in soils despite its ability to nodulate and fix nitrogen with a wide range of rhizobia. Bean inoculation programs in Africa have repeatedly been plagued by a lack of, or erratic, inoculation responses in the field ...

Literature study by the Virtual Fertilizer Research Center (VFRC)

A literature study has been published by the Virtual Fertilizer Research Center (VFRC) (written with the Department of Soil Quality, Wageningen Unversity) about soil, roots and micororganismes: the fascinating world of microbioal life in the rhizosphere that contributes to nutrient uptake for plants.

Mozambique update

Progress in partnerships:

N2Africa-Mozambique signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The USAID AgriFUTURO (AgriFUTURO). This MoU facilitates an ...

Dissemination and training activities:

IITA’s N2Africa (N2Africa-Mozambique) finished with the harvesting of 2013-14 demo plots in Manica, Nampula, Tete and Zambézia provinces. In total of 87 plots ...

Soyabean grain yield and seed quality under rain fed conditions in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone falls within the humid forest agro ecological zone. Based on meteorological data, type of vegetation, and length of growing period for crops under rain fed conditions, the country is divided into different agro climatic zones. As an incredibly versatile plant with different maturity groups, soyabean is adaptable to a wide range of climatic conditions. Date of planting exposes soyabean plants to environmental factors (water, temperature, relative humidity, and day length) ...

It’s all about beans... Rwanda even released a song

Rwanda’s top musicians King James, Miss Jojo, Riderman,Tom Close, and Urban Boyz have donated their talent for a healthier Rwanda and promote beans as you can see in this clip from HarvestPlus.

(Published before on Facebook on 22 January 2015)

Grain legume residues as a livestock feed resource for smallholders in northern Ghana

Agriculture in Ghana is dominated by small-scale crop-livestock farming based on cereal and legume production and livestock rearing. Livestock rearing is an important component of crop-livestock farming system because it serves as an insurance against crop failure, a source of manure, a source of cash and makes good use of crop residues. The main objective of this study is to understand the roles and functions of grain legume residues in livestock farming systems and identify options to improve utilisation by smallholders in northern Ghana. ...

Figure: Individual interview with a female farmer at Sandu Community, Northern region

2016 PanAfrican & World Cowpea Conference Update

The dates of the conference have been confirmed as 28 February - 4 March 2016. Further information can be found in the first announcement.

Report uploaded on the N2Africa website

Joseph Mhango submitted his MSc thesis "Efficacy and competitiveness of indigenous Bradyrhizobia strains on soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) productivity in Malawi" at Egerton University. We uploaded it on our website.

N2Africa in the news

In the September issue of the Dutch magazine Vork, published by Agrio, a critical platform that discusses developments in the food chain, an interview entitled "Stik-stofbinding voor kleine boeren in Africa (Nitrogen fixation for smallholder farmers in Africa)" with Ken Giller was published. In 6 pages it shows photos and gives information on the background and aims of N2Africa.

N2Africa in the news
  • N2Africa is mentioned in an interview on low-cost nitrogen fixing technology with Emmanuel Chikwari from the Chemistry and Soil Research Institute in Zimbabwe, published by
  • The Soybean Innovation Lab newsletter highlights collaboration with N2Africa.
  • One Acre Fund refers to its collaboration N2Africa in a blog post.
  • WageningenUR highlights al kinds of research done and recently "Pulses as source for enriching diets" was presented was mentioned.
Related publications

Centre for Rhizobium Studies published manual "Working with Rhizobia".

The nitrogen-fixing symbiosis between legumes and soil bacteria (known as rhizobia) is fundamental to sustainable agriculture. ... (Photo: the editors admiring the new publication)

ESRC - DFID Project: Assessing the impact of agricultural extension and input subsidies in Eastern DRC

Researchers from the Development Economics Group at Wageningen University teamed up with the N2Africa program to assess the impact of their program in Eastern DRC. First reports are available via the N2Africa website. ...


There is an update on the Second International Legume Society Conference, scheduled to be held at Tróia, Portugal, from 12th to 14th October 2016. Websites: and

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

One of my major research activities was a set of trials that evaluated the role of inoculation, P-fertilizer and manure application on common bean and soyabean yield and yield components. As part of this work, I measured nitrogen fixation in both legumes using the 15N-natural abundance method.

Picture: Soyabean inoculated, with P-fertilizer and manure in Bugesera


Reports uploaded on the N2Africa website

Feeding a Hungry Planet: Agriculture, Nutrition and Sustainability
A new MOOC. This 7-weeks free online course from SDG Academy has started last week, but you can still participate! Enroll here!

West Africa Fertilizer Agribusiness Conference 2017
Focus is on demand creation for fertilizer and agribusiness across Africa.

Related publications

Peter Goldsmith of the University of Illinois who coordinates the Soybean Innovation Lab sent us a link to an article that reports a new world record yield of 11.48 t/ha for soyabean;

Duncan Sones shared ASHC’s Northern Ghana Soybean Technical Brief 2017.

Exploring options to improve soyabean yields in Mozambique
Amaral Machaculeha Chibeba, from Mozambique, was awarded a PhD fellowship by the Wageningen University in 2012 under the N2Africa Project. During the last 12 months the awardee worked on revising two articles of his already defended PhD Thesis. Both articles have just been published with open access by Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. ...

Figure from "Feasibility of transference of inoculation-related technologies: A case study of evaluation of soyabean rhizobial strains under the agro-climatic conditions of Brazil and Mozambique" Chibeba et al.

Zimbabwe N2Africa project exit strategy

After eight good years of working with thousands of smallholder farmers across seven districts during Phase I and five districts during Phase II, N2Africa Zimbabwe is now wrapping up the active funding phase of the project. In Zimbabwe, we are entering ‘Phase III’  ...

Photo: Farmers used grain they had produced to make more valuable products

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

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.

Announcement IFDC international training program

The training program The Fertilizer Value Chain – Supply System Management and Servicing Farmers’ Needs "Pathways to Optimize Stakeholder Returns in Unstable Markets" will convene in Accra, Ghana, December 2-6, 2013. For more detailed information click here and read the detailed program description.

Options to enhance biological nitrogen fixation by soyabean and common bean in smallholder farming systems of Rwanda

Legumes are inoculated with expectation that it will increase nitrogen fixation and grain yield. However, this is not always the case. Among the possible factors affecting the response of legumes to inoculation are competition between indigenous soil strains with introduced ones, sufficient population of soil rhizobia and environmental stresses. ...

Photo: Farmers weighing farm yard manure

Malawi, May – August 2014: Progress with implementation

This article presents a series of workshops, conferences and other meetings that took place, collaboration that started or was intensified for progress with implementation.

Photo: Brenda Sopo of IITA takes the Malawi Minister of Agriculture, Allan Chiyembekeza (in Dark suit) through IITA activities


Integrated management of cowpea insect pests in Sierra Leone

Cowpea is the second most important grain legume in Sierra Leone after groundnut. The grain is valued for its nutritive content and short cooking time, and also favoured by farmers because of its ability to maintain soil fertility through its ability to fix nitrogen. Despite the high potential for production, yields have been generally low. Total yield losses and crop failure may occur due to several factors including the use of local varieties by farmers, time of planting, low soil fertility and insect pests. ...

Photo: Maruca caterpillar on cowpea

IITA news on N2Africa activities in Tanzania

Catherine Njuguna (IITA) kindly shared with us a blog on the IITA website on very recent N2Africa activities in Tanzania.

In addition to publication via this blog a slightly different version of the article was published on page 3 of last weeks IITA weekly bulletin.

ADVANCE II Newsletter

ADVANCE, a partner for N2Africa in northern Ghana, sent us the March edition of their ADVANCE II Newsletter. In this issue, they share news of how a nucleus farmer is supporting female smallholder farmers increase yield and income, how women in agriculture were celebrated on the International Women’s Day, some field stories and many more.

Crowdsourcing for agricultural data collection

Data availability often limits detailed assessment and explanation of yield gaps at farm level. Bottom-up data collection approaches (e.g. crowdsourcing) can be used to overcome lack of data and improve yield gap analysis. A case study with 50 farmers selected from 5 districts was carried out in Ethiopia. The main objective of the case study was to explore the opportunities and applicability of innovative bottom-up data collection approaches like crowdsourcing (using SMS) and digital devices (tablets) to collect factors that could explain yield gap. Detailed socio-economic and agronomic data were collected using tablets. Besides, short message system (SMS) using farmers owned basic phones was tested to assess its applicability to collect cropping and event calendar information (e.g. sowing date, weeding date) and incidence of pest and diseases directly from farmers. ...

Free online Summer course of the Future of Crop Production

It is still possible to participate in the Wageningen University MOOC "Future Food Production: Crops" made available on edX. There is no fee and it is open to all who wish to join. Follow this link to register: Subscription is possible until September 15th.

N2Africa publications

A publication by Fidèle Barhebwa Balangalize et al.: Competitiveness of smallholder legume production in South Kivu region, Democratic Republic of Congo.


Ludy Keino et al. published from N2Africa work in Kenya in PLOS one journal: "Nutrients Limiting Soybean (Glycine max l) Growth in Acrisols and Ferralsols of Western Kenya".

Reports and other output uploaded on the N2Africa website

Annual reports 2015 for DR Congo, Rwanda and Malawi.

The report written by CropLife for N2Africa about the assessment of contract sprayers in Borno State, Nigeria. See also the article in the previous Podcaster.

Maize-grain legume intercropping: Ecological intensification to enhance resource use efficiency and crop productivity for smallholder farmers in northern Ghana

I conducted intercropping trials as key part of my PhD study, for the 2013 and 2014 seasons in the southern (Kpataribogu) and northern (Bundunia) Guinea savanna in northern Ghana. ...

Figure: Cowpea and maize grain yields as affected by spatial plant arrangement and soil fertility level in 2013 in Kpataribogu and Bundunia. The error bars show the standard error of difference between means (SED)

N2Africa in the news

A publication in The Conversation, lifting the gloom of African farmers through legume production by Frederick Baijukya and Fred Kanampiu:

Related newsletters
Symbiotic performance of soyabean root nodule bacteria (RNB) recovered from Zimbabwe

Dry weight of soyabean biomass inoculated with soyabean root nodule bacteria recovered in Zimbabwe

Soyabean is an important crop in the agriculture-led economy of Zimbabwe and production is supported by inoculation with rhizobia. Rhizobia are soil bacteria that have the ability to form symbioses with legumes and fix nitrogen within novel structures called nodules. This obviates the need for nitrogen fertilizer, which is expensive and difficult to manage. ...
N2Africa reinforced nutrition education for HIV-AIDS care groups in Zimbabwe

The Cluster Agriculture Development Services (CADS) implemented the N2Africa project activities during the last six years, principally in Goromonzi and Mutoko districts. CADS fosters better livelihoods for various communities faced with different challenges.  ...

Photo: Farmers at a groundnut field day in Mutoko 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

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.

New International Course on Agriculture Nutrition Linkages

The Centre for Development Innovation Wageningen UR is pleased to announce the organisation of the International Course on Agriculture Nutrition Linkages, to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 18 - 29 November 2013. ...

Scientific seminar to discuss and present the outcomes of Phase I of N2Africa

We are pleased to announce a scientific seminar to discuss and present the outcomes of the first four years of N2Africa. The event will take place in Nairobi from 28 to 30 of October 2013. Invitees include the N2Africa steering committee, our major partners and other stakeholders in the project representating all the N2Africa countries, from the scientific and development community as well as government representatives. ...

MSc, BSC, Internship reports freely available on the N2Africa internet

The MSc, BSc, internship reports of our Wageningen University students are made freely available on our website. You wil find the reports under the tab "outputs". All our work done in Wageningen is done via global access and we are aiming to make it available to everybody.

We have many students still studying at partner universities in Africa and we hope very much that their thesis reports will be made available very soon.

The Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership: Opportunities for collaboration with N2Africa

On July 1, 2013 USAID and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) announced the Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership (SSTP) in Africa, a $47 million, four-year partnership intended to accelerate smallholder farmer access to transformative agricultural technologies.

SSTP is accelerating the adoption of high-yield crop varieties and complementary technologies by smallholder farmers in Africa in support of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a shared commitment of African leaders, private sector partners, and donor governments to lift millions out of poverty over the next decade.


Experts advise the Malawian government to give grain legumes a central role in the Farm Input Subsidy Program

The Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) in Malawi has been a tremendous success in improving maize yields and reducing hunger in the country. The FISP is however plagued by inefficiencies in the implementation and the use of inputs and as a result, donor countries have been hesitant to contribute to the funding of the program in recent years. AGRA organised a technical meeting with agricultural experts in Salima, Malawi, on August 27-28 to derive recommendations for the Malawian government to improve the FISP.


Autumn debate of the Wagenings Journalists’s cafe ‘the correct multimedia mix’

Ken Giller attended a debate for a journalist collective (link in Dutch only) on October 9th. Yael de Haan, teacher Crossmedial communication of the University of Applied Sciences of Utrecht, led a discussion about the added value of using multimedia as ways to reach specific target groups In the debate Ken Giller told why he made so many films for the N2Africa project. ...

Report Borno Youths training

In Podcaster 28 on page 8 we informed you on the training of youths from Borno State Nigeria on Agrobusiness.

We now also received their report which is attached here

IFDC training program “Linking Farmers to Markets in Africa"

IFDC organizes courses, among others this one on linking farmers to markets, that will take place in Nairobi from July 20-24, 2015 and conducts in English. (previous versions were in English and French.

What about N2Africa and the diet of this 2 year old Ghanaian girl Talata*? An update of my PhD research

How are N2Africa activities linked with the dietary intake of infants and young children like this Ghanaian girl Talata? And how do the activities trickle down to the nutritional status of these infants and children and therefore their productivity later in life? The majority of the undernourished population in the world live in rural households in developing countries. Farming is their mainstay and often the only means to access of food and income. Evidence for theoretically assumed linkages between agriculture and nutrition is, however, weak. In the context of the N2Africa project, we will research the linkages between agricuture and nutrition and their drivers in rural households. ...

ADVANCE II Newsletter

We received the "ADVANCE II Newsletter" June Edition. This quarterly newsletter informs you about progress, impact and successes of the ADVANCE Project. Also shared is news of how a female farmer is improving her farming operations thanks to project support, how FBOs are being strengthened, how mechanization services are being improved in Northern Ghana and many more..

Reports uploaded on the N2Africa website

4 MSc theses, 1 BSc thesis, a workshop report "Taking Stock and Moving Forward and the N2Africa Communication Master plan have been uploaded.

Reports and other output uploaded on the N2Africa website
Related newsletters

Tropical Legumes III aims to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in drought-prone areas of the two regions through enhanced productivity and production of grain legumes. This bulletin ...

The March 2016 ADVANCE Newsletter, with articles on ADVANCE bringing together maize and soyabean value chain actors to network ...

Abundance and morphological characteristics of rhizobia nodulating common bean in Uganda

We used the plant infection technique to estimate the population of rhizobia in soils obtained from the Montane and Mt. Elgon agro-ecological zones (AEZs), focusing on three land use management practices across an elevation gradient. ...

Figure: Sterile nutrient solution addition during authentication tests of the isolates in a growth chamber

Related news

International Year of Pulses (IYP)
The International Year of Pulses creates a unique moment to showcase research investments that would allow pulse crops to deliver on their full potential as a critical player in the global food system. The 10-Year Research Strategy report will be used to set the future research agenda.


The West Africa Fertilizer Agribusiness Conference, Accra, Ghana, 10-12 July 2017, mentioned in the previous Podcaster now has a link to his years’ event.

Exploring options to enhance biological nitrogen fixation and yield of soyabean and common bean in smallholder farming systems in Rwanda
One of my PhD research activities included trials that assessed the effect of mineral fertilizers (N, P, K and their combination) and manure (0, 2 and 5 t ha-1) application on climbing bean yields. This study was carried out in two sites of the Northern Province of Rwanda, which is the major climbing bean growing area in the country. As part of this work, I evaluated the response of mineral fertilizer to manure application, the role of fertilizer and manure on shoot N and P uptake. ...
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

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

Inoculating legumes: a practical guide. Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC)

We received a link to a very interesting publication written by the Australian team Drew E, Herridge D, Ballard R, O’Hara G, Deaker R, Denton M, et al.: INOCULATING LEGUMES: A PRACTICAL GUIDE. Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) [Internet]. Kingston, Australia; 2012. ...

6th International Nitrogen Conference (N2013): ”Just Enough N: Perspectives on how to get there for “too much” and "too little" Regions”

For the 6th International Nitrogen Conference (N2013), hosted by both Makerere University and IITA from 28th Nov to Dec 2013, in Kampala, Uganda (link N2Africa will sponsor a number of selected participants that will present a paper or poster on N2Africa work. ...

Conference announcements

Announcement 27th SSEA and 6th ASSS conference in Nakuru, Kenya,  20-25 Oct 2013

Reminder: Global Food Security Conference, 29 September - 2 October 2013 in Noordwijkerhout ,the Netherlands

Links to video on women in extension

From Agro-Insight we received a link to a video on women in extension. The link is available several languages. Click the language of your choise if you want to watch: English, French, Kiswahili or Portugese.

You can watch online or download the video and audio files for later use.

Conference announcement

IFDC offers a training program "Linking Farmers to Markets in Africa" in East Africa. It will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, July 1-5, 2013.

the program is meant for development professionals from both public and private sector with specific interest in farmer-to-market linkages, such as agro-input dealers, importers, traders and trader organizations; producer organizations; and development projects, donors, NGOs and other agricultural development practitioners.

For more information see this link.

N2Africa-Ethiopia Annual Planning Workshop, 15- 16 April

N2Africa-Ethiopia annual planning workshop was successfully held on 15-16 April, 2014 at ILRI Addis campus. The conference was made in ILRI’s conference hall with well-furnished display technology which exited the participants. A total of 41 participants from national and regional research institutes, Universities, Ministry of Agriculture, ILRI, CAFS, National Soil, Private sectors, and invited guest from ICRISAT and NGOs have attended the conference. Dr. Amare Tegbaru, N2Africa’s Gender Specialist, Dar es Salam IITA, also attended the planning meeting and made presentations. ...

Agricultural Shows and Nutrition workshops major activities during the off-season in Zimbabwe

During the period June-September, N2Africa activities in Zimbabwe focused on local level value addition of grain legumes through nutrition workshops that involved mostly women farmers and dissemination of project technologies at both ward and district agricultural shows, which are annual events. These activities ...

Figure left. N2Africa beneficiaries were among some of the farmers who won at the ‘ward’ shows and subsequently brought their produce to the district agricultural shows during August

New training materials

Half November we uploaded a number of new training materials for Training of Trainers and Lead Farmers. Most of these were written by N2Africa together with the African Soil Health Consortium. Photos show two of the cover pages. The booklets can be downloaded from our website and via the separate links.


2016 PanAfrican & World Cowpea Conference

First announcement

On behalf of N2Africa Ken Giller accepted the invitation for N2Africa to cohost the joint PanAfrican Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference, to celebrate the 2016 International Year of Pulses, as declared by the United Nations ( The conference is organized by Legume Innovation Lab, Michigan State University and IITA.

Legume Perspectives issue 6

From The Editorial Board of Legume Perspectives, the journal of the International Legume Society (ILS), we received a link to the issue 6 of Legume Perspectives that has been published in March. Please download it from their journal web page, together with previous issues.

You are also welcome to visit the archives of Grain Legumes, the predecessor of legume perspectives.

Introducing Mr Shakiru Quadri, Youth Agri-preneur Facilitator for N2Africa-Borno State

We have the pleasure of introducing Mr Shakiru Quadri, the Youth Agri-preneur Facilitator for N2Africa-Borno State, working under the supervision of Dr. Nkeki Kamai. Mr. Quadri is a graduate of General Agriculture of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), University of Ife (1982) with a first research work on "the effect of four rhizobium strains [local and foreign] on nodulation, N-fixation, and yield of cowpea [Ife brown]". He obtained a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Ilorin (2005), and a Master of Science (MSc) Food Security and Development of the University of Reading, United Kingdom (2014).

Humidtropics Newsletter April-June 2015

Humidtropics sent us their latest newsletter with lots of interesting information.

Related publications

Can Short-season Grain Legumes Contribute to More Resilient and Productive Farming Systems in Semi-arid Eastern Kenya? A publication by A. Sennhenn, D.M.G. Njarui, B.L. Maass, A.M. Whitbread in Procedia Environmental Sciences (Volume 29, 2015, Pages 81–82).

Related newsletters

Farm Radio International released an e-newsletter called Making Waves. In its first issue it refers to N2Africa in its article "CIFSRF’s UP: Farm Radio International wins two projects": ...


The 17th African Association of Biological Nitrogen Fixation (AABNF) conference ...

Update on the 12th European Nitrogen Fixation Conference ...

Conference "Transition and Local Development in Eastern DRC" ...

Grain legume residues: Livestock fatteners’ most vital feed resource in northern Ghana

Livestock fattening is one of the major occupations of the people of Bawku in the Upper East Region of Ghana. It is a business considered to be for landless people in the society. Bawku is one of the project districts of the N2Africa project. ...

Figure: Mr Abdala Awal with some of his fattened animals ready for the market


Related newsletters

We received a number of newsletters:
SUN Movement Newsletter September 2016 (Scaling Up Nutrition);
The IITA Bulletin 31 October – 4 November 2016 (No. 2352);
Soybean Innovation Lab Newsletter October 2016;
CIAT blog on Business of quick cook beans;
CIAT blog on Uganda’s rural women find beans to beat climate;
Technical reports on pulse use and nutrition from around the world (IYP);
Nutritional benefits of pulses (FAO);
Pulses: The Heroes of Nutrition & Agricultural Sustainability (FAO);
Legume Alliance blog - Championing radio... .

Nutritional benefits of improved grain legume cultivation in Ghana and Kenya

Figure. Percentage of food group requirements covered by their production at household and district level in Karaga district and national level in Ghana. Values at household level are in median (IQR) (median is used instead of the mean because of a few strong outliers); values at district level are in mean (SD); and values at national level are percentages coverage (kg national food availability per capita/recommended food per capita (South African food-based dietary guidelines)*100).

My first paper ‘Grain legume cultivation and children’s dietary diversity in smallholder farming households in rural Ghana and Kenya’ was just published in Springer’s journal Food Security! Currently, I am finalising my second paper sharing results of our dietary gap assessment in northern Ghana. ...
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

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

Farming systems course announcement

The International Postgraduate Course "Farming Systems and Rural Livelihoods: Vulnerability and Adaptation"will be held 7 – 18 October 2013 in Wondo Genet, Ethiopia. ...


Bulletin of Tropical Legumes

The latest Bulletin of Tropical Legumes that features Mali, has now been added to the N2Africa website: Link

A quantitative food consumption survey of infants and young children in rural Ghana: a first step in linking agriculture and nutrition

Agricultural models used to analyse and re-design farming systems using multi-objective optimisation do not take into account household nutrition needs, while the development of dietary guidelines do not take into account the local food systems and agricultural productivity. Combination of agricultural productivity and nutritional needs may result in farm designs that optimize nutrition. One of the first steps in linking agriculture productivity and nutritional needs is to identify strategies to improve the nutritional quality of the diet based on locally available foods. ...

Article published: Soybean rust: A major threat to soybean production in Tanzania

Efforts of the government and development partners have stirred the interest of soybean production among farmers in Tanzania. The crop that is mainly cultivated for human consumption, utilization in animal feeds, soil fertility improvement and as source of income has increased in demand over the recent years. ...

International Conference on Building a New Generation of Agricultural Scientists” held at Kenyatta University, Nairobi-Kenya (1st - 5th December, 2014)

I was delighted to present a keynote address to roughly 250 budding young agricultural scientists at this international conference. Great to interact with such a talented group and we had lots of opportunities for photos! ...

Rechiatu Asei, Onawumi Olufisayo Adeyinka, Ken, Mavis Badu and Benedicta Essel (from left to right)

N2Africa features as case study within the PROIntensAfrica project

N2Africa was recently selected as case study within a project called PROIntensAfrica. PROIntensAfrica aims to build a long-term research and innovation partnership between Africa and the European Union, focusing on the improvement of food and nutrition security. The project has a large number of partners in Europe (including Wageningen University and CIRAD), and in Africa (including FARA, CORAF, CCARDESA, ASARECA). ...

ECOLEG: Ecosystemic Services Of Legumes In Agro-Ecosystems

ECOLEG: is confirmed to take place in Agropolis Montpellier Campus La Gaillarde, between august 24th and 28th, as final meeting of the GPF fabatropimed, and as an international symposium on the topic.

Postgraduate course Soil Ecology and the Planetary Boundaries by Wageningen University Graduate School for Production Ecology and Resource Conservation (PE&RC)

Two interesting conferences we would like to announce:

Nutritional benefits of improved grain legume cultivation in Ghana and Kenya

n contrast to my first PhD period within the N2Africa project, last year I spent most of my time behind my desk analysing data, discussing results with others and writing. I hope to soon share with you my first paper ‘Child’s nutritional benefits of improved grain legume cultivation in smallholder farming households in rural Ghana and Kenya’. ...

Figure: Explorative structural equation model of the effect of soyabean production on dietary diversity of children 6-59 months through production-own consumption pathway and income-food purchase pathway in rural western Kenya

Co-learning using NUANCES-FARMSIM in Kenya and Uganda - A collaboration between Humidtropics, MAIZE and N2Africa
My PhD research does not solely focus on legumes, but uses legumes as one of the options to sustainably increase farm-level production. The first field activities (and my PhD project) started in August 2016 with co-learning workshops in western Kenya and activities in western Uganda will follow early 2018. ...

Discussing options for improving farm production with farmers in Vihiga

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
Launch meetings in the Core Countries

In the previous Podcaster we already informed you about the Phase II launch meetings for the Core Countries Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria. The workshop report of the launch meeting held in Tanzania is now available via the N2Africa website. Also a report from the Uganda launch meeting can be accessed there.

Maureen Waswa et al. article published: Identifying elite rhizobia for soybean (Glycine max) in Kenya

Bio-prospecting was conducted in Kenya to identify elite isolates of rhizobia capable of effectively nodulating promising soybean varieties. One hundred isolates were recovered from nodules of wild and cultivated legume hosts. These isolates were authenticated and tested for effectiveness on soybean (Glycine max) var. SB 19 in sterile vermiculite, and the twenty-four most promising isolates screened in potted soil to assess their competitive abilities on two varieties ("promiscuously nodulating" SB 19 and specific SC Safari). ...

MSc research in the Salima District, Malawi: Thesis report

Hyejin Lee completed her MSc thesis entitled "Assessment of changes in households food availability, access, utilization and stability using farm stratification associated with the introduction of legume technology in Salima district, Malawi" at the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart as part of an Erasmus exchange programme between Wageningen University and the University of Hohenheim early December.

Other newsletters

We received the Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) July Newsletter.

Tropical Soybean Information Portal and Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) June Newsletter

Dr. Peter Goldsmith sent us some information on the new Tropical Soybean Information Portal as well as their newsletter.

Understanding the role of Public-Private Partnerships in overcoming institutional barriers to technology adoption

N2Africa tests and promotes technologies to enhance legume productivity including improved legume seeds, inoculant, phosphorus fertilizer and improved practices. Adoption by smallholders is hindered by a range of institutional, socioeconomic and biophysical barriers. In line with current thinking on market-based development, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) interventions are used by N2Africa to overcome barriers to adoption. A knowledge gap exists concerning the design and effectiveness of PPPs. ...

Reports and other output uploaded on the N2Africa website
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.

Briefs on Innovation Platforms

Several briefs on innovation platforms have been developed by ILRI as part of their contribution to the Humid Tropics CRP. The briefs can be downloaded from the ILRI website.

Samuel Mutuma et al. article published: Smallholder farmers’ use and profitability of legume inoculants in western Kenya

Research on the use of Rhizobia inoculants has been conducted in Africa since 1950s. However, the technology has not been widely applied by farmers on the continent. In Kenya, wide-scale adoption of this innovation among the smallholder farmers is still low. The aim of this study

The article is published in the Africa Crop Science Journal, Vol 22, No 3.

Participatory approaches to smallholder crop diversification in Malawi

Figure 1. Participatory evaluation of soyabean crop and nutrient management practices in Salima, Malawi

My research started as a legume agronomist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Malawi. Two years of on-farm participatory research with smallholder farmers resulted in two publications. The first paper ...
N2Africa publications
Related newsletters
MSc research in the Usambara Mountains, Tanzania: Thesis reports

Last part of the series about the MSc research of Jori and Elise. The results of their field work and data analysis, is presented in two thesis reports that are available via the N2Africa website.

Photo: Elise (left) and Jori presenting their research outcomes. Photo credits Rik Schuiling

Related newsletters
Related newsletters
Gender report available via the N2Africa website

The gender report for Phase I, related to milestone 4.5.2. was published on our website on August 7th. It presents a lot of information on womens’ involvement in the N2Africa activities stated in numbers. You might already have opened it from our Facebook website, where it was shared on August 7th.

Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing

Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing ( is a new “climate smart” publisher. We are building a database of review chapters, each written by a leading expert, which systematically covers the major crop varieties and, at the same time, each step in the value chain for their production, from breeding through to harvest. We are soon to publish two new books on grain legumes:

Save 20% when you order online using this exclusive discount code ...


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 (”.