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Transdisciplinary processes of developing, applying, and evaluating a method for improving smallholder farmers' access to (phosphorus) fertilizers: The SMAP method

: Njoroge, R.; Birech, R.; Arusey, C.; Korir, M.; Mutisya, C.; Scholz, R.W.


Sustainability Science 10 (2015), No.4, pp.601-619
ISSN: 1862-4065
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISC ()

The lack of knowledge about fertilization, inadequate income to purchase fertilizers, limited access to the right type of fertilizers, and national policies have been identified as prerequisites of Sub-Saharan smallholder farmers' low yield and food insecurity. This paper presents how the smallholder access to phosphorus (SMAP) method was developed in a transdisciplinary process in Kenya, and what insights have been gained in a first application of the SMAP method. The transdisciplinary SMAP method comprises (1) farmers' participation in a transdisciplinary process including extension officers and local scientists to construct farm-specific fertilization strategies based on (2) farm-specific soil testing and (3) the construction of cooperative strategies for purchasing fertilizers involving farmers, traders, and financial institutions in a timely manner. The method aims to improve farmers' participation in the value chain. The development of the method followed the Zurich 2000 conception of transdisciplinarity. The development co-led by representatives of a cereal growers association and scientists from local and international universities included main actors of the national and local (phosphorus) fertilizer supply-demand chain. The first application of the SMAP method was evaluated by embedding an ANOVA (analysis of variance) study design following the ideas of experimental action research. There were significant effects of soil testing and a marginal significant effect of the transdisciplinary construction of farm-specific fertilization strategies. This paper presents the initial transdisciplinary project plan for developing the SMAP method, how the transdisciplinary process worked in reality, what obstacles were met in practice, and the benefits of practice and science that resulted from this transdisciplinary project.