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Training: Decision Support Tools for Agricultural Production, Fertilizer Recommendations and Climatic Variability

Background Agriculture and related activities provide the livelihood opportunities for eight of every 10 African workers. Yield-enhancing technologies, including improved seeds, crop protection products and integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) using both inorganic and organic fertilizer materials, allow farmers to typically double, and in some cases, triple or quadruple yields. These technologies also enable farmers to minimize expenditures and reduce risks regarding the application of costly mineral fertilizers by combining them with organic nutrient sources, applying non-conventional fertilizers with ‘point placement’ or use of decision support tools (DSTs) for improved crop recovery of nutrients. The cost of mineral fertilizers often comprises the largest single component in a smallholder farmer’s overall costs of production. By optimizing crop management, farmers can maximize financial returns while simultaneously improving yield which offers market opportunities and associated improvements in food security. IFDC and other partner organizations have engaged in research and development activities coupled with extensive field testing to validate decision support systems that can enhance decision-making at the smallholder farmer level. Such systems enable rapid assessment of more effective and economic combinations of locally available nutrient sources and inorganic fertilizers that farmers can apply on a site-specific basis to increase yields and income. These site-specific recommendations are developed within the framework of an assessment of climate variability and the potential for long-term climate change. The training program Decision Support Tools for Agricultural Production, Fertilizer Recommendations and Climatic Variability will offer an opportunity to disseminate the results of IFDC’s and partner organizations’ work while providing hands-on training in the application of decision support systems tools. Training Program Objective The objectives of this seven-day program include:
  • Increase participants’ knowledge of decision support systems in improving the productivity of agriculture.
  • Give hands-on use of DSTs to address a wide array of production questions.
  • Enhance participants’ understanding of application opportunities for decision support systems to improve yields and achieve resource conservation.
The program will enable those engaged in agricultural research and extension services to improve their ability to use geographic information systems (GIS) and modeling tools to collect, analyze and employ soil, weather and market information in systems to generate site- and crop-specific nutrient and crop management recommendations. The course will improve participants’ skills in the collection and integration of field data with DSTs and in the methods of disseminating and applying results that lead to better yields and higher profits. Who Should Attend This training is designed for agronomists, soil scientists, meteorologists and economists from national and international agricultural research institutes and universities; nutrient management specialists, resource management specialists and agricultural extension agents in Africa; as well as policy-makers from African governments and their Ministries in charge of agricultural productivity and planning. Training Program Content The course will cover all facets of fertilizer recommendation systems, including risks associated with climatic and market fluctuations. Topics to be addressed by a faculty of experts will include:
  • General introduction to fertilizer requirements, ISFM and DSTs.
  • Using existing soil, climate, crop and socioeconomic data and crop simulation models for ex-ante analysis of yields and market accessibility for strategic site selection.
  • Identifying yield gaps and plant nutrient demand for target yields.
  • Determination of optimal nutrient rates within the context of ISFM.
  • Designing field trials and data collection exercises.
  • Maintaining and updating nutrient recommendations.
  • Employing DSTs, specifically Decision Support Systems for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) and the Phosphate Rock Decision Support System (PRDSS) for rapid analyses and recommendations.
  • Application of GIS and the Climate Information Analysis geo-spatial tool for regional and site-specific recommendations.
Methodology The program will include formal sessions and breakout groups. Field trips and interactive discussions involving the participants and lecturers will be integral parts of the program, ensuring that specific interests of the participants are covered. Faculty The program faculty will include subject matter experts from IFDC and partner organizations. Venue The workshop will take place at the Naura Springs Hotel which is located on East Africa Community Road just off the Nairobi Road in the heart of Arusha. Naura Springs is quite close to the Arusha International Conference Center (AICC) and overlooks magnificent Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro. The hotel is easily accessible, being just 45 minutes from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), 1.5 hours from the Namanga border and five minutes from the city center. KLM shuttle buses are available to provide economical transport from/to Kilimanjaro Airport (for KLM arrivees only) at US $15 per person. For those not arriving via KLM, transportation from the airport to the hotel can be arranged for a fee by contacting the hotel. Naura Springs Hotel has agreed to offer IFDC participants the exceptional rate of US $55.00 per room/per night for reservations made no later than August 29, 2012. This rate is for standard single rooms and inclusive of breakfast and all taxes. All rooms have digital satellite TVs, Internet connection, direct dial-out facilities, mini-bars, safety deposit boxes, tea- or coffee- making facilities, as well as spacious bathrooms with Jacuzzis and shower boxes. All rooms face magnificent Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro for your viewing pleasure. Participants should plan to arrive in Arusha, Tanzania, onTuesday, October 2, 2012.   Visa and Medical Insurance APPLICATIONS FOR VISAS SHOULD BE MADE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. Participants who are not eligible to enter Tanzania without a visa should apply at the nearest consulate or embassy of Tanzania for a visa. All required immunizations and health formalities should be completed. Medical insurance should be obtained by participants. The training program fee does not cover any medical insurance or expenses. Cost and Enrollment The program fee for this training course is US $1,300 per participant. This fee is due with enrollment but no later than September 3, 2012. A non-refundable deposit of US $200 is required with each registration. The deposit will be credited toward the program fee which is due four (4) weeks before the program is scheduled. Thereafter, a Late Fee will apply. The program fee, less the deposit, will be refunded for cancellations made two (2) weeks before the commencement of the program. Ninety percent of the paid fee will be returned and 10 percent, in addition to the deposit, will be charged to cover administrative costs for cancellations made between two (2) weeks and one (1) week before the commencement of the program. Cancellations made less than one (1) week before the commencement of the program will receive no refund. Registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Paid participants will receive priority. Registration and program fee payments should reach IFDC by September 3, 2012. Those received thereafter will be accepted at IFDC’s discretion and incur an additional US $200 late fee. An organization wishing to enroll more than one participant should supply information and payment for each participant. Payment of the program fee can be made by: (1) check or draft payable to IFDC; (2) wire transfer to IFDC’s account in the U.S.A. through First Metro Bank, 406 West Avalon Avenue, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, U.S.A., ABA number 062203955 for credit to IFDC Account number 55281; or (3) major credit card – MasterCard, Visa or American Express. The program fee covers registration, training and reference materials, coffee/tea breaks, all lunches and surface transportation on field trips. The fee does not include air travel, lodging and dinner expenses, or medical and communication expenses. About IFDC IFDC is a nonprofit, public international organization (PIO) dedicated to increasing agricultural productivity and food production through the development and use of plant nutrients in sustainable crop production systems. Headquartered in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, U.S.A., IFDC is involved in human resource development, research and technical assistance in collaboration with public, private, national and international organizations throughout the world. IFDC has conducted about 700 formal workshops, study tours and training programs for more than 10,000 participants from 150 countries since 1974. The programs have covered a wide range of subjects including integrated soil fertility management and fertilizer use efficiency, fertilizer production technology, agro-input dealerships, competitive marketing, supply chain management, investment analysis, policy reforms and numerous specialized topics. Click on this Link for more information and Registration.