Two years after its launch in September 2020, the Fertilizer and Seed Recommendations Map for West Africa (FeSeRWAM) has undergone a major overhaul and update to better meet user needs.
The new version, FeSeRWAM 2.0, was launched during a virtual event on August 25, 2022, which brought together nearly 200 participants.
Resulting from a collaboration between CORAF and the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), FeSeRWAM is a decision support tool designed to address the challenge of low use of quality agricultural input, and to help improve agricultural productivity in West Africa and Chad.
CORAF and IFDC collaborated under the Partnership for Agricultural Research, Education and Development in West Africa (PAIRED) project and the Feed the Future Enhancing Growth through Regional Agricultural Input Systems (EnGRAIS) project, which they respectively implement.
« FeSeRWAM is a platform that provides a combination of technical information on seeds, fertilizer varieties and good agricultural practices, mainly to agricultural technology extension agents and agro-dealers, who are in contact with farmers on a daily basis », explains Dr. Youl Sansan, Deputy Coordinator of the Feed the Future Enhancing Growth through Regional Agricultural Input Systems (EnGRAIS) Project for West Africa.
In fact, FeSeRWAM provides users with Agricultural Input Packages (AIPs), which are a combination of improved seed varieties, appropriate fertilizer recommendations, good agricultural practices, and all this, according to the agro-ecological zones (AEZs) in West Africa.
Amidst continuously evolving and changing contexts, the two organizations deemed it appropriate to update the platform so that it continues to play its role as an effective decision-making tool.
“Research is very dynamic in the sub-region. Every year, new seed varieties are developed, and fertilizer recommendations evolve and change with the contexts,” says Dr. Hippolyte Affognon, PAIRED Project Coordinator at CORAF.
“In order for FeSeRWAM platform to continue to be useful and relevant to users, it was necessary to update it so that it is more user-friendly, and especially that it offers users updated AIPs that respond to current agriculture challenges in the sub-region,” he adds.
FeSeRWAM 2.0 is the culmination of a process that started in 2021 and involved over 350 strategic stakeholders from various national and regional organizations.
It comes with its set of changes and new features that make it easier to use and a powerful tool that will help farmers increase their productivity and income, down the road.
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FeSeRWAM 2.0 currently has one thousand thirty-four (1,034) AIPs, which cover eight hundred and six (806) varieties of twenty-seven (27) crops.
Sixteen (16) countries are currently included on the platform.
Sustainability of the platform
The FeSeRWAM 2.0 virtual launching meeting also provided an opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on the sustainability strategy of the platform.
“FeSeRWAM was developed in the framework of the PAIRED and Feed the Future EnGRAIS projects, which respectively come to end in December 2022 and February 2023. It is therefore important not to make it a static representation of what PAIRED and EnGrais were, at the end of the projects, but rather a valuable and relevant resource on seed and fertilizer recommendations for the agricultural sector,” said Dr. Caroline Makamto-Sobgui, Agricultural Technologies and Innovations Scaling Up Specialist at CORAF.
According to the expert, the platform sustainability requires from stakeholders to take its ownership, and also a firm commitment and will to maintain it.
“The ownership of the FeSeRWAM tool by the stakeholders is a sine qua non condition for its sustainability. Indeed, this will bring actors to continue to invest the necessary resources in the tool, to keep it updated and continue to use it,” said Dr. Makamto-Sobgui.
She added that the sustainability of the platform also requires a continuous, active and coordinated effort and involvement of all actors, including CORAF and IFDC, and other key agricultural actors in the region.