Fertilizer facts induce effective use
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Fertilizer facts induce effective use Training programs spread fertilizer education
to farmers of developing countries
Not just use, but effective use of fertilizer in developing countries is one answer to increasing world food production. This was the message at a symposium on Fertilizer Use in Developing Countries. The sympo-sium was part of the Food for Billions meeting, held in Washington, D.C., by the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America.
Educating fanners in developing countries about fertilizer use has been the problem in many cases, Dr. Darrel A. Russel, agronomist from Tennessee Valley Authority, Muscle Shoals, Ala., said. Obstacles are posed by culture, religious beliefs, and long-established habits of many developing countries.
Several programs have been devised by industry, government, and univer-sities to get fertilizer facts to the farmer. K. Pushpuraj, who presented a report prepared by R. V. Iyer, super-intendent, design bureau, Fertilizers and Chemicals, Travancore, Ltd., India, told how the company launched a fertilization program. This program, because of lack of money, was divided into three phases.
During the first phase, mass propa-ganda for creating fertilizer awareness was initiated through the press, films, and exhibitions, along with the expan-sion of sales and training of company personnel. The second phase con-sisted of farmer education in soil man-agement, using demonstration plots; at the same time, dealers were offered incentives. The final phase culmi-nated in "fertilizer festivals," which featured a procession of elephants. During the festival, classes, free soil testing, agricultural exhibitions, and film shows were used to acquaint In-dian farmers with fertilizer use.
This promotional campaign resulted in an increase of total fertilizer con-sumption from 20,898 tons during 1959 to 83,501 during 1964, Mr. Pushpuraj noted.
Dr. Malcolm H. McVickar, agrono-mist with Chevron Chemical, San Francisco, Calif., said that the com-mercial company is normally faced with assessing both fertilizer require-ments and market potential. Indus-try recognizes that to retain and ex-pand business, fertilizers must earn a profit for farmers, too. The commer-cial company thus also informs farm-
TESTING. A group of Latin American agronomy students analyze soil samples, using an atomic absorption spectrometer. These students are being trained at North Carolina State University at Raleigh under the International Soil Testing Program. The program is directed by Dr. J. Walter Fitts
42 C&EN NOV. 20, 1967
ers of the kind of fertilizer to buy, how much to use, and when to apply it.
A unique approach is that of Esso Standard Fertilizer and Agricultural Chemical Co., Inc. (Philippines). Leo P. DeGuzman, agricultural econ-omist from Esso, says that out of 2.4 million Philippino farmers surveyed, only 30% used any fertilizer. This is below 10% of the potential fertilizer demand in the Philippines and is due primarily to:
Limited knowledge by farmers of proper fertilizer use.
Limited supplies at farm level. Lack of money and credit for
farmers. To overcome these barriers, Esso
started its market development work a year and a half before startup of its fertilizer plant in the Philippines (C&EN, March 7, 1966, page 35) . The company conducted 237 fertilizer demonstrations for farmers in 1965 and 1966 and is aiming for 300 more this year.
Besides the demonstrations, Esso recruited and trained 374 indigenous dealers70% of whom have technical training in agronomyto sell not only the company's line of fertilizers and pesticides, but also seeds and other farming supplies. The company also arranged for farmers to get credit with local banks. According to Mr. De-Guzman, Esso sales in the next five years may grow at an average rate of 207c compared with the industry growth of 14% per year.
But before fertilizers can be recom-mended to farmers, suppliers and ad-visers first assess the degree of re-sponse that can be obtained from var-ious fertilizers. This is accomplished by soil testing. Dr. J. Walter Fitts, professor of agronomy at North Caro-lina State University, directs such a soil testing program to support soil and plant analysis programs largely in Latin America.
He and his staff, financed by an Agency for International Develop-ment contract, work with local leaders and agronomy students in developing research programs for correlating soil test results with fertilizer needs, in im-proving soil sampling techniques, and in developing analysis apparatus. With this program, Dr. Fitts and his staff have helped Latin American agronomists increase the capacity of their sampling rate from 20 to several hundred soil samples per day.
After soil and plant samples are analyzed, local workers identify nu-trient-deficient crops and determine if the crops respond to fertilization. If yes, they recommend specific fer-tilizers to farmers, followed by mass educational programs to ensure that the farmers understand.
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NOV. 20, 1967 C&EN 43
INTERNATIONALFertilizer facts induce effective use