The Ethiopian Agriculture Transformation Agency (ATA) asked AFAP to provide technical support and assistance to enable the Ethiopian authorities to establish fertilizer-blending facilities in the production regions of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian authorities had recently conducted a country-wide soil-testing and analysis project that had revealed the needs of the soils and the crops grown in each region, and they now wanted to assist farmers to increase their yields.

AFAP provided a technical expert to work with the ATA team and farmers cooperatives to produce designs and specification for five blending facilities. Each facility was to cater for the crops and soil needs of a region. AFAP’s technical expert provided the plant layouts, suggested the type of blending equipment to be installed and produced complete factory designs.

Results Summary

  • Five fertilizer-blending facilities were established at Farmer Cooperative Union (FCU) locations within the major agricultural production regions of the country.  The site locations are:
    • Becho Woliso FCU, Tulo Bolo, Oromia region;
    • Gibe Dedesa FCU, Neketone, Oromia region;
    • Enderta FCU, Mekele, Tigray region;
    • Melik FCU, Worabe, SNNP region; and
    • Merkeb FCU, Bahir Dar, Amhara region.
  • The Ethiopia Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) was provided with business and technical advice on how to develop the facilities.
  • AFAP assisted the ATA in developing the initial feasibility work and financial projections for establishing four fertilizer-blending facilities at FCU locations, which were eventually selected jointly by Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) and regional bureaus of agriculture. This participation included direct contribu­tions to the overall economic analysis developed by the ATA for fertilizer blending.
  • AFAP provided overall guidance and supervision on the design and construction of building facilities, as well as the procurement and installation of the blending and bagging equipment.
  • AFAP engaged in the planning and development of training programs for FCU officials and employees, and for Ministry and Regional Bureau of Agriculture Officials.
  • AFAP launched the operations of three of the five facilities after their completion.
  • Two-thousand smallholder farmers were targeted for receipt of blended fertilizers.
  • Approximately 40,000 farmers were reached in year one of blending at the Becho Woliso facility.

Map of the five blending facilities at the Farmer Cooperative Unions

Summary of the capital costs for a blending facility

  • AFAP organized and conducted a regional blending tour to Zambia and Malawi for FCU officials and staff, as well as regional bureau officials, and ATA officials. The tour visited five blending facilities and interviewed management and/or owners at each site.
  • AFAP developed staffing plans and position descriptions for each facility.

Proposed organizational structure for a blending facility

  • AFAP participated in the selection process of the FCUs for local contractors to complete the civil and concrete works for the blending facilities.
  • AFAP conducted physical inspections of each proposed construction site for the blending facilities and provided guidance on the location of the building structures, proposed external traffic flow for each site, as well as locations for future installations and structures, such as weighbridges and warehouses, civil works requirements, measures for surface water management, etc.
  • AFAP developed the building specifications for each blending facility according to the following:
    • projected output capacity,
    • type of blending and bagging equipment to be installed,
    • minimum storage requirements for input ingredients and finished/blended products,
    • type of handling equipment (front end loaders) operating in the building,
    • Suitability for future expansion, natural light requirements, etc.
  • Specifications were finalized with a design engineer, who completed the technical drawings and bill of quantities for construction of the facilities.
  • AFAP developed the specifications for the blending and ancillary equipment based on the capacity of each of the four planned blending facilities; utilized these specifications to complete tender documentations and procedures for selecting suppliers based on technical compliance, which eventually involved participation with ATA’s procurement department in the selection and award process.
  • AFAP provided general oversight of the building construction and equipment installations according to the project plan.
  • AFAP developed the scope of work and terms of reference, and supervised a site engineer who conducted bi-weekly (minimum) site visits to each of the four FCU locations to determine progress according to contractors’ schedules and contracts with clients, compliance with design and engineering specifications, as well as to ensure construction materials met engineer requirements.
  • AFAP participated in the National Fertilizer Demonstrations Workshop organized by USAID, and provided advice on balanced fertilizer applications and the importance of soil data for conducting trials and recommendations.
  • AFAP conducted sensitization and training workshops with FCU boards of directors and senior staff prior to the establishment of the facilities to ensure the union understood the blending enterprise as a business undertaking and to clarify the financial and overall investment requirements of the unions.
  • AFAP provided initial training sessions to FCU management at each FCU blending location.
  • AFAP assisted in the commissioning of the facilities for start-up and launching.
  • AFAP participated in developing technical formulations for blended fertilizers to be used within each region, based on the ATA soil mapping data and the field demonstrations established throughout the country.
  • More than 30,000 demonstration plots were established in 2013 and 2014 to compare results of blended fertilizers with DAP applications

It was estimated that an average of 1000 farmers visited each site, thereby awareness created to more than 3 million farmers across the four regions

Results of the application of blended fertilizers

Visual results of multi-nutrient blended fertilizers to DAP

  • AFAP determined the types of ingredient materials needed to make the blend formulations, based on best agronomic practices.
  • AFAP developed technical specifications for blending ingredients (NPS, potash, zinc, boron) for submission to the AISE[1] to release as international tender.
  • AFAP assisted the management of the Becho Woliso FCU in start up of operations and successfully blended 20,000 tons in the first year of operation.
  • AFAP assisted in developing the bag design (labeling and markings) for the finished blend product.
  • AFAP conducted trial formulations of blends to address a problem related to an inferior quality boron ingredient that was procured by the MoA.
  • AFAP assisted in the development of general training programs for FCU staff engaged in the various fertilizer blending operations including:  blending and bagging operations, warehouse management of ingredient and finished blends, accounting and controls of materials, and maintenance and repairs, etc.
  • AFAP provided guidance on developing blend formulations for private and commercial farming clients who request specific types and quantities of fertilizer for various crop production situations. These formulations were variances of those recommended by ATA and MoA according to the general soil data from each region.
  • AFAP developed a technical scope of work and terms of reference for submission of a tender to consulting and management firms for a two-year training program at each FCU blending facility.  It participated in the selection and award processes. The contract was supported by USAID through its Feed the Future project in Ethiopia.
  • AFAP conducted annual reviews of the five blending facilities and provided recommendations, which included:
    • Optimizing factory utilization and efficiency, distribution and handling of inbound and outbound products;
    • improving profitability at the union level;
    • addressing policy and regulatory issues which affect the fertilizer industry and blending operations within Ethiopia; and
    • Improvements in procurement and tendering processes.
  • AFAP assisted the Becho Woliso FCU in applying for grant funds to increase their capacity with an additional bagging unit and adding small bags (10 kg and 25 kg) filling capability.