The USAID Scaling Up Fertilizer Deep Placement and Microdosing Technologies in Mali project improves food security and incomes for smallholder entrepreneurs. Fertilizer deep placement – or in this case, urea deep placement (UDP) – is a climate-smart yield-increasing technology. IFDC trained Rokiatou Diallo and her cooperative to use UDP. She shares her story below:

My name is Rokiatou Diallo. I am from the village of Niena in the Sikasso region of Mali. Most women here farm less than 2 hectares of land. We realized as individuals, we could not do much with such small landholdings. So we formed a group of 512 small producers, the Niena Women’s Cooperative of Rice Producers, and I am the president.  This group enabled us to combine our strengths and to help facilitate access to agricultural inputs.

Our goal is to ensure food security for our families and help move toward food sovereignty for our country. We cannot do this without access to fertilizer. Our land is no longer fertile due to generations of land exploitation. All the while, our families continue to grow in number.

Thanks to USAID and IFDC, we began to see hope when we were taught to use urea deep placement (UDP) technology.

The results were easy to see. On our demonstration plots, we saw a 20 percent increase in yield. And the miracle: we used 55 percent less fertilizer than before. The grains were also larger and of better quality.

There is another advantage – with UDP 100 percent of the fertilizer goes to the crops. With the old way, we lost 60 percent of the fertilizer to the air. Broadcasting fertilizer contaminated our rivers and wells, and it even helped the weeds invade our fields. Now, our water is clean – and we do much less weeding!

As grateful as we are for UDP and its benefits, there are still challenges. Bending all day to bury the fertilizer is hard work, and placing the UDP in a line is time-consuming.

Yet even with these difficulties, UDP use is spreading rapidly. With our briquetting machine, we now have access to UDP. Processing our granular fertilizer costs only 1,750 CFA [U.S. $2.80] per bag. Considering the money we save – and our higher yields – it’s quite a good investment.

We need UDP applicators to continue this trend and to alleviate the difficulties.

When we get our applicators, we will be well on our way toward a future of agricultural prosperity and environmental sustainability.

Editor’s note: IFDC continues to improve FDP application technology. New and improved applicators are currently being designed and tested.