Fertilizers Can Help Smallholder Farmers Grow Profitable Crops
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Fertilizers Can Help Smallholder Farmers Grow Profitable Crops

June 08, 2015   |   ShareThis

Through fertilizers, balanced crop nutrition and agronomic best practices, smallholder farmers can grow healthier crops, escape poverty and transform their villages.

By Kari Niedfeldt-Thomas, Executive Director, The Mosaic Company Foundation, and Senior Manager, Social Responsibility, The Mosaic Company

The United Nations estimates that world population will climb from 7 billion people today to 9 billion by 2050. For that many human beings to thrive on our planet, the world’s farmers must produce more food, fiber and fuel crops. And they will need fertilizers to do it.

At The Mosaic Company, our mission is to help the world grow the food it needs. By striving to produce and deliver the highest quality, most innovative crop nutrition products — we help farmers rise to the challenge.

Balanced Crop Nutrition

While agricultural productivity has seen substantial improvements in the last 50 years, smallholder farmers in many areas of the world are trapped in a cycle of insufficient crop yields and poverty. Living on one acre of land or less, they often struggle simply to feed themselves — much less generate a surplus of food.

With the world's ever-growing population, it is imperative to help smallholders become more productive. In 1960, one hectare fed two people. By 2025, one hectare will feed 25 people. Arable land and resources used to grow crops need to be maximized; this is known as sustainable intensification. Part of how we can sustainably maximize agricultural production and reduce environmental impacts is through balanced crop nutrition.

Balanced crop nutrition means delivering the right ratio of nutrients to optimize yield and profitability. Minerals, including phosphate and potash, play a vital role in plant growth — with 17 total elements required for plants to thrive. Not all soils contain these nutrients. Plants need to consume naturally occurring nutrients that come from either organic or mineral fertilizer sources. Fertilizers — containing the Right nutrient source, applied at the Right rate, at the Right time and in the Right place — help farmers supply and replenish the nutrients plants need. This is known as 4R Nutrient Stewardship and it is a component of agronomic and balanced crop nutrition best practices.

Through knowledge and training, smallholder farmers can learn balanced crop nutrition and 4R Nutrient Stewardship – and build a strong foundation for optimized yields, while also maximizing their profitability and sustainability.

The Mosaic Villages Project

Since 2008, The Mosaic Company and The Mosaic Company Foundation have invested in programs in Guatemala, India, Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia, along with our partners, HELPS International, Sehgal Foundation and Millennium Promise. Farms involved in The Mosaic Villages Project have increased crop yields by an average three to five times over traditional farming practices.

IFAD AgTalks: Cultivating Change

With support from companies and partners throughout the supply chain, smallholders can change their trajectory and begin an upward spiral of economic prosperity and food security. To initiate an upward spiral, smallholders need access to fertilizer, balanced crop nutrition training and agronomic best practices. Learn more in my International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) AgTalks video episode, “Essential Elements,” in which I speak about:

About the Author

Kari Niedfeldt-Thomas is the Executive Director of The Mosaic Company Foundation, and the Senior Manager of Social Responsibility at The Mosaic Company. Kari leads Mosaic’s strategy for integrating corporate social responsibility with a diverse portfolio of partnership—including community investment, sustainable agriculture, global food security and nutrient stewardship, watershed restoration and habitat conservation. Prior to Mosaic, Kari served as president of two nonprofit organizations and led several public-private partnerships. She was awarded a Bush Leadership Fellowship from the Archibald Bush Foundation, a finalist for CFO of the Year-Nonprofit with Minneapolis/Saint Paul Business Journal, named one of The (Real) Power 50 of 2013 by Minnesota Business Magazine, and named one of the 2013 Women of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys. Learn more at www.mosaicco.com.