Growing Smarter: Embracing Site-Specific Fertilizer Recommendations in Ethiopia


In the rolling wheat fields of Ethiopia, a digital revolution is taking root. In a country where traditional blanket fertilizer recommendations have long governed farming practices, a pioneering initiative is breaking new ground, promising not just higher yields, but a brighter future for farmers. Digital Green, in partnership with the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, is blending technology with traditional farming practices to revolutionize how farmers nourish their crops by tailoring fertilizer recommendations to the unique needs of each location. 

A Tailored Approach to Farming

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all fertilizer recommendations. Imagine a world where farmers receive personalized advice as unique as the soil they till. That’s the vision brought to life through the Decision Support Tool (DST) developed by CIAT. This innovative tool generates site-specific fertilizer recommendations, ensuring every grain of wheat reaches its fullest potential. The results? A remarkable 24% increase in yield per hectare per season compared to local recommendations and a 16% rise over national blanket recommendations.

The journey from data to field is facilitated by Digital Green’s cutting-edge digital technologies. Our video-based extension and a pioneering Telegram Bot serve as conduits, delivering these golden nuggets of advice directly into the hands of Development Agents and, ultimately, the farmers. Initially, farmers received advice through printed maps and videos. However, as the number of participating farmers grew, the need for a more scalable and sustainable solution became evident. Enter the Telegram bot, a game-changer in agricultural advisories, enabling frontline workers to effectively share vital information with farmers.

Reception and Adaptation

Frontline workers have embraced the Telegram bot, praising its user-friendliness and the ease it brings in dispensing advice at both village and individual levels. Their feedback is a testament to the tool’s effectiveness in making a real difference on the ground. This digital transformation has not just boosted crop yields; it’s changing lives. Over 50,200 farmers, including a significant 25% female representation, from 16 woredas have been reached through these advisories. What’s more, 38,810 farmers have accessed information directly from the Telegram bot, embodying the success of this digital leap. 

Initially skeptical, farmers have also gradually recognized the benefits of site-specific recommendations. Despite challenges like fertilizer shortages and high prices, many are eager to adopt these new practices, drawn by the promise of higher yields and better livestock feed.

Looking Ahead

Frontline workers are not just users but innovators, suggesting integrations for comprehensive advisories covering diverse crops and farming practices. The vision is to create a digital ecosystem that supports every aspect of farming, from sowing to harvest. As we stand at the intersection of tradition and technology, it’s clear that the future of farming is digital. By personalizing agricultural advice, empowering farmers with knowledge, and leveraging the power of digital tools, we are not just growing crops; we’re nurturing a new era of sustainable and prosperous agriculture.

Read the full assessment reporthere.

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