IFDC Newsletter: Fall 2018


Headquarters Updates

The “Headquarters Updates” section is for news that has some effect on the entire organization. This may include personnel updates, staff announcements, new project awards, letters from the CEO, and other things we haven’t thought of yet!


Welcome to IFDC’s Internal Newsletter

Greetings from IFDC Headquarters!

Thank you for reading our internal newsletter. I hope you’ll find the contents informative and engaging. We have selected some updates from all of our regions, some featured research and publications, as well as some general updates and upcoming events. Currently, with our small staff, we plan to publish this newsletter quarterly. If you would like to contribute to the January 2019 newsletter, please write to me at athigpen@ifdc.org.

This is the first issue of its kind, so there will be lots of room for improvement. At the bottom of the newsletter, there is a brief survey to help the Communications team figure out how we can make this a better way for us to communicate inside the organization. Please give us your feedback, as we want to make sure we give you the best quality information in the most efficient way. 

Our ultimate goal is to bring together information from different parts of the organization in one place. We hope to provoke conversation between various field offices and projects and headquarters. The more we communicate with one another, the stronger our organization will be.

Keep in mind: this is an internal newsletter and is not for publication or sharing outside of the organization. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to interact with me directly at athigpen@ifdc.org.


Andy Thigpen
Senior Communications Supervisor


Board of Directors’ Meeting 2018

Mr. Pat Murphy

The Board of Directors’ meeting for 2018 was a great success. We welcomed two new board members, Ms. Esin Mete from Turkey and Dr. Raj Paroda from India. Their experience will be a great asset to our diverse group of board members. You can read Ms. Mete’s bio here and Dr. Paroda’s bio here

We also welcomed Mr. Pat Murphy as our Interim President and CEO. Mr. Murphy has been on our board since 2004 and has a great deal of experience in international economic development. You can read his brief bio here. Mr. Murphy will be officially taking over as interim on October 26. 

Our annual board dinner was filled with lots of excitement, as we honored Dr. Angle’s service to IFDC. Local County Extension agents were in attendance, as Dr. Angle has developed close relationships with Extension Services and other members of the community. 

Dr. Angle was proud to present several awards to some deserving staff members. The first was the President’s Outstanding Local Staff Member award and was presented to Grace Chilande, Junior Fertilizer Market Specialist. The second was the President’s Outstanding Headquarters Staff award and was presented to Kasta Staggs, Senior Accounting Supervisor. The final award was the Chairman’s Outstanding Internationally Posted Staff Member award presented to Alexander Fernando, Regional Director of East and Southern Africa. We’re extremely proud of their achievements over the past year and their dedication to their work. IFDC is lucky to have them. You can read more about their awards here. 

Please enjoy a photo album from the board dinner


NAVEX EthicsPoint Incident Management Launch

Beginning Monday, October 8, IFDC will roll out its new compliance and incident management software: NAVEX EthicsPoint. The EthicsPoint system will allow employees to anonymously report any incidents that go against IFDC’s Code of Conduct and policies, and/or are illegal.

We encourage all IFDC employees to follow this simple rule: if you see something, say something. IFDC remains committed to our employees’ safety and well-being. This platform will allow any wrongdoing to be reported and dealt with swiftly, without anyone having to fear retaliation.

Every report is filtered through NAVEX EthicsPoint personnel and remains completely anonymous to the IFDC staff in charge of managing the system. Currently, our external auditor, Nicodemus Thure, and Chief of Finance and Operations, Scott Hudson, are system administrators. Regional Directors and Supervisors will have the ability to see cases assigned to them, but only when given access by the system administrators.

There are two ways to report an incident. First, you can use the online portal located here. This will be located on the IFDC Global Sharepoint page and sent out in a separate email. Second, after you select the country on the portal page, you can call the number that appears on the left side of the screen (NOTE: due to phone service provider restrictions, not all countries have a telephone number). These phone numbers will connect with a real person who speaks the national language of that country (i.e., Beninese callers will speak to a French speaker).

HQ Communications will design posters that will go up in all of our offices, in as many languages as we can. The posters will have the portal short link and the country phone number, if one is available.

It’s highly encouraged that you watch the EthicsPoint User Training here.

If you have any questions, please contact senior communications supervisor, Andy Thigpen (athigpen@ifdc.org).

Performance Appraisals 2018

Human Resources (HR) has launched annual performance reviews for the October 2017 – October 2018 period. It is important that everyone complete this process by October 31, 2018.  Please contact cfisher@ifdc.org if you have any questions regarding the appraisal process. 

Goals for the next appraisal year will not be set in our current WingSpan system; instead, you will set them in our new Agile Performance Software system. Agile is another product offered by SilkRoad but this system will enable everyone to be more productive and successful with continuous performance feedback. Don’t worry about losing your previous performance reviews; all reviews have been exported from WingSpan to Agile Performance, with the exception of the current appraisal year. HR will not be able to export your current review until every staff member has completed the process, so please make sure all appraisals are completed by October 31, 2018. It is also HR’s goal to have training material completed around the same time.



Project Updates

Seeds of Hope, Episode 1: Demonstration Field

Our Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) project has produced a series of stellar videos as their project closes this year. In this seven-part series, learn about the amazing work our team has done in Burundi on quality seed development. This is the first episode, so check back to the main IFDC website as we launch more videos.

A proposal for the Private Seed Sector Development (PSSD) project has been submitted for follow on.

For more videos like this, check out our Youtube channel.

MELS Training and DevResults

Since June 2018 IFDC has adopted an institution-level monitoring, evaluation, learning, and sharing (MELS) systems approach to coordinate the efforts of tracking individual project level activities and results through a centralized electronic platform.

For this purpose, Latha Nagarajan has been building a customized, online project management tool that allows monitoring project management activities and its progress on a closer to real time basis. The tool will enable managers to make appropriate and timely decisions to ensure donor accountability requirements on time. The online project management system has been designed through the project management software developed by DevResults, which supports mapping of indicators to results outcomes at the project level and in turn to IFDC’s overall vision and results. The platform further supports exporting and publishing the data as per the prescribed standards of International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).

Currently IFDC has 17 well-trained M&E specialists, involved in various MELS related activities, including data management, data quality and integrity, and day-to-day implementation of M&E systems in various IFDC projects globally. All the specialists were trained in using and inputting their data and results through the IFDC M&E platform during June through August. They continue to use the platform and its various features for better reporting and accountability. The platform also features a dashboard of results – a snap shot at the project level as well as at the institutional level. The dashboard, and the platform itself, serves as a community of practice (CoP) among the MELS specialists within the organization to engage in reflective learning and sharing practices and  build a culture of collaborative learning and adapting among the staff.


Proud Farmers, Better Soils, More Food:
PAPAB Project Featured in Dutch Newspaper

Our Accelerating Agriculture Production in Burundi (PAPAB) project was featured in a Dutch newspaper. Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the poorest that we work in. The article discusses the challenges of empowering farmers in Burundi. IFDC has been active in Burundi for many years, and through PAPAB we’re continuing to help farmers realize their dreams by increasing their yields, join together in Savings and Loan programs, and map out their futures with attainable goals in collaboration with their entire family.

Read the full story here and use your browser translator to translate to English or French.


AVPI Empowering Women in Bangladesh: Part 1

The Accelerating Vegetable Productivity Improvement (AVPI) project in Bangladesh is working hard to empower women vegetable and fruit farmers. The project, funded by the Walmart Foundation, produced these videos showcasing some of the results of the project. 

To watch more videos like this, check out our Youtube channel. 

Transferring Tech in Burkina Faso

The level of knowledge and use of agricultural inputs in Burkina Faso is low: 12% for mineral fertilizers and 8% for improved seeds.

In order to improve producers’ knowledge of inputs and good use practices, the Support Program for the Modernization of Family Farms – Inputs Component (PAMEFA- Vi) has set up five Agricultural Technology Transfer Centers (CTTA) in the provinces of Gourma, Houet, Nahouri, Mouhoun and Sanmatenga. A total of 19 types of demonstration plots (varietal, fertilization, micro dose, good use of pesticides, etc.) were implemented during the 2017/2018 campaign. Through these demonstrations, 829 producers, 29% of whom were women, were able to build their capacities on topics related to the proper use of inputs and the knowledge of fertilizers adapted to each type of speculation.

Read the full story here.

Baraka is Better: 2SCALE Increases Rice Yields by 30%

Conventional fertilizers provide plants with three main nutrients, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus; but soils are often deficient in secondary or micronutrients such as zinc or boron.

In partnership with fertilizer manufacturer Toyota Tsusho, IFDC’s Toward Sustainable Clusters in Agribusiness through Learning in Entrepreneurship (2SCALE) project helped introduce a new blended fertilizer for rice in Kenya. Baraka (Swahili for “blessing”) contains boron and zinc in addition to the standard NPK. It was introduced last year. Farmers purchased more than 10,000 bags; rice yields increased by 30%.

Read the full story here.


Research & Publications

Here you can find recent publications and research by our scientific staff. Please write to athigpen@ifdc.org and copy in cgreene@ifdc.org if you have any recent research you would like to include. 


Slow and Steady: the effects of different coatings on nitrogen release in soil.

Our scientists Job Fugice and Christian Dimkpa, along with consultant Lauren Johnson, recently published an article in Argus’ Fertilizer Focus magazine about the effects of coatings on nitrogen release in soil. 
If you have a topic you would like to pitch to Fertilizer Focus, please email Andy Thigpen (athigpen@ifdc.org). They are always looking for content and enjoy receiving material from us. 
Fugice, J., Dimkpa, C. Johnson, L. 2018. Slow and Steady: the effects of different coatings on nitrogen release in soil. Fertilizer Focus, September/October 2018, pgs. 12-13. 
For the full story, click here.
For the full September/October issue of Fertilizer Focus, click here.


IFDC Evaluation of Portable Soil Test Kits

Smallholder farmers, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, often lack access to soil testing laboratories to determine their soil’s fertility and the nutrients required to increase crop productivity. This causes farmers to apply fertilizer that may not meet their soil’s needs. One solution is the use of mobile soil testing kits that are inexpensive and easy to use.

IFDC evaluated the performance of three soil testing kits: Kasetsart, Hach, and SoilDoc. The goal was to identify kits that are accurate, affordable, portable, and user friendly. The analysis was funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

Click here to view results of the evaluation and lessons learned.


Exposure to weathered and fresh nanoparticle and ionic Zn in soil promotes grain yield and modulates nutrient acquisition in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)

This study evaluated weathered and fresh ZnO-nanoparticles and Zn-salt effects on nutrient acquisition and redistribution in wheat. Weathered and fresh ZnO-nanoparticles and Zn-salt significantly increased grain yield by 15% and 29%, respectively. Post-harvest soil acidification indicated ZnO-nanoparticles dissolved during growth. Zn was significantly bioaccumulated from both Zn types, but with low root-to-shoot bioaccumulation efficiency: 24% and 20% for weathered nanoparticles and salt, and 48% and 30% for fresh nanoparticles and salt. Grain Zn content was increased 186% and 229% by weathered nanoparticles and salt, and 229% and 300% by fresh nanoparticles and salt. Shoot-to-grain translocation efficiency was high: 167% and 177% for weathered nanoparticles and salt, and 209% and 155% for fresh nanoparticles and salt. However, Zincon assay indicated grain Zn does not exist as ions. This study demonstrates that ZnO-nanoparticles and Zn-salt vary in their effects on nutrient acquisition in wheat, with relevance for biofortification of Zn for human nutrition.
Dimkpa, C.O., Singh, U., Bindraban, P.S., Elmer, W.H., Gardea-Torresdey, J.L., White, J.C. 2018. Exposure to weathered and fresh nanoparticle and ionic Zn in soil promotes grain yield and modulates nutrient acquisition in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 66:9645–9656.
For the full paper, click here.


Effects of manganese nanoparticle exposure on nutrient acquisition in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)

Nanoparticles are used in a variety of products, including fertilizer-nutrients and agro-pesticides. However, due to heightened reactivity of nano-scale materials, the effects of nanoparticle nutrients on crops can be more dramatic when compared to non nano-scale nutrients. This study evaluated the effect of nano-manganese (Mn) on wheat yield and nutrient acquisition, relative to bulk and ionic-Mn. Wheat was exposed to the Mn types in soil (6 mg/kg/plant), and nano-Mn was repeated in foliar application. Plant growth, grain yield, nutrient acquisition, and residual soil nutrients were assessed. When compared to the control, all Mn types significantly (p < 0.05) reduced shoot N by 9-18%. However, nano-Mn in soil exhibited other subtle effects on nutrient acquisition that were different from ionic or bulk-Mn, including reductions in shoot Mn (25%), P (33%), and K (7%) contents, and an increase (30%) in soil residual nitrate-N. Despite lowering shoot Mn, nano-Mn resulted in a higher grain Mn translocation efficiency (22%), as compared to salt-Mn (20%), bulk-Mn (21%), and control (16%). When compared to soil, foliar exposure to nano-Mn exhibited significant differences: greater shoot (37%) and grain (12%) Mn contents; less (40%) soil nitrate-N; and, more soil (17%) and shoot (43%) P. These findings indicate that exposure to nano-scale Mn in soil could affect plants in subtle ways, differing from bulk or ionic-Mn, suggesting caution in its use in agriculture. Applying nano-Mn as a foliar treatment could enable greater control on plant responses.
Dimkpa, C.O., Singh, U., Adisa, I.O., Bindraban, P.S., Elmer, W.H., Gardea-Torresdey, J.L., White, J.C. 2018. Effects of manganese nanoparticle exposure on nutrient acquisition in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), Agronomy 8:158.
For the full paper, click here.


Soil properties influence the response of terrestrial plants to metallic nanoparticles exposure.

Metal-based nanoparticles, such as Ag, ZnO, CuO, TiO2, and others, possess unique properties that lend them to a wide array of uses. This means that during manufacture, use, or upon disuse, these nanoparticles can become constituents of the soil. Upon interaction with soil, nanoparticles affect soil processes and, in turn, are affected by soil properties. The soil factors affecting nanoparticles can be classified into chemical (e.g., pH, organic matter, and ionic strength) and biological (e.g., plant root exudates, microbes, and microbial activities). Some well-known fates of nanoparticles in soil include aggregation of individual nanoparticles (homoaggregation) or of nanoparticles with other soil constituents (heteroaggregation); dissolution to ionic species and, potentially, sorption of the ions onto organic matter or precipitation with chloride; acquisition of surface coating; change in surface charge; and change in shape. These modifications alter nanoparticles reactivity, which diminishes or enhances their bioactivity in plant systems. Thus, the degree to which nanoparticles influence plants depends to a large extent on the complexity of soil property.
Dimkpa, C.O. 2018. Soil properties influence the response of terrestrial plants to metallic nanoparticles exposure. Current Opinion in Environmental Science and Health 6:1-8
For the full paper, click here.

Upcoming Events

Rob Groot’s Webinar

Please join us on Wednesday, October 10 at 8:15 a.m. Headquarters time (13:15 Accra; 16:15 Nairobi; 19:15 Dhaka) for our first-ever internal webinar featuring Rob Groot, Director of Field Operations. Rob will be discussing the ingredients for successful new business development. 

To register for the webinar, please click here. 

These webinars are designed for our staff to spend no more than 30 minutes (including a question-and-answer session) discussing their work and activities. We want to highlight the capabilities of our staff and bring people closer together. It’s our hope that these webinars will encourage conversation between our employees in different parts of the world. 

Do you have something you’re working on you’d like to talk about? Is one of your projects doing great work, and you’d like to show it off? Have you presented at a conference recently and think some IFDC staff could benefit from your presentation? Let us know! Please contact Andy Thigpen (athigpen@ifdc.org) if you’d like to do your own webinar.

We will record this webinar, so if you can’t make it, no worries. We’ll send it out in an email later. 



IFDC is hosting a training in “Granular Fertilizers Production and Specialty Products” during November 5-9, 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand. More than 30 participants and speakers from 14 countries will gather at the Courtyard Marriott Bangkok to discuss all things granulation from an overview of the fundamentals to storage and handling to solving unique problems. This year, a new addition is the discussion of specialty products, including enhanced efficiency products and processes.


Special Features

Don’t Wait! Communicate!

Meet our Communications team! Chances are, you have spoken with us through email. But in this brochure, you can see us and understand our roles. We offer a lot of expertise, and if you need anything, please feel free to reach out and ask! Remember, we’re a small team, so the sooner you give us notification about your project, the sooner we can get to it before your deadline. 

Click on the image above to see the full brochure or click here.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us! And remember: Don’t wait! Communicate!


Buy-In Document

The Feed the Future Soil Fertility Activity is a global support mechanism for USAID missions to access support on developing, piloting, and scaling up soil fertility and agricultural productivity practices and technologies. In addition, the activity engages in market analysis and policy conditions and promotes recommendations to develop a conducive policy environment for private sector-led input markets.

The attached document — known internally as “The Buy-In Document” — outlines how missions can request activities from IFDC. These activities can range from targeted assessments to surveys or evaluations of strategies, markets, or policies to even a fully developed project for working with smallholder farmers, their organizations, or fertilizer industry actors to scale up soil fertility programs and practices. This demand-driven mechanism enables rapid procurement of expertise to support the integration of soil fertility approaches into program planning and implementation.

Access the Buy-In document here: Feed the Future Soil Fertility Buy-In Document.

For more information, contact David Fischer (dfischer@ifdc.org).

Newsletter Survey

Please take a few minutes to give us your feedback! We want to continually improve our communication techniques and content and would love to hear from you on how to make it better!

Here’s the link.