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Gender-Smart Fertilizer Use Necessary for Smallholders, Say Experts

Compiling gender-inclusive data could help scientists understand how to help improve nitrogen fertilizer application practices among smallholder farmers, according to a new research paper.

Smallholder maize and wheat farmers need to make use of inorganic nitrogen fertilizer alongside other good agronomic practices, to produce healthy and productive crops, but nitrogen can be misapplied.

Fertilizer overuse can be harmful to plants and soil, contaminate drinking water and kill off fish species. Additionally, nitrogen fertilizer produces nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, which contributes to climate change.

“Gender and environmentally-blind fertilizer policies have been the norm in many regions, leading to negative effects in both high and low nitrogen fertilizer use scenarios that impact most strongly on women and children”, said Clare Stirling, a senior scientist with the Sustainable Intensification Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).

ILO/Truong Van Vi

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