If I told you a smallholder coffee farmer could triple their coffee yields with lower fertilizer costs than before, what would you say?
This is Stephen, a smallholder coffee farmer from Central Kenya. He used to harvest 2500 kilos of coffee from his trees. His coffee yields were “stuck” because of the “law of minimum” – our soil analysis showed that it didn’t matter how much nitrogen he applied to his trees, until he applied magnesium, zinc and boron, his yields were not going to improve.
Some [people] are asking me: what are you doing? You have really improved! The coffee the other day looked like shrubs but today the coffee looks like a forest, doing well – Stephen, Coffee Farmer, Embu Kenya
So he did, and reduced his nitrogen fertilizer; and tripled his yield from the same number of coffee trees, to 6000 kgs…. For small farmers already investing in fertilizer, normally through loans, increasing yields is very often about using the right type of fertilizer, not more fertilizer.
So it’s not just about providing the farm inputs finance, the money is not enough, it’s about how that finance is used, that really counts. To have real impact, we must move to a scientific, evidence-based farm inputs financing system.
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