A library of over 400 information products grows out of a soil project in Africa

On World Soil Day (5 December), we wanted to share with you how a unique library of promotional materials has grown out of a soil health project.

Since 2011, the CABI-led Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) has been working with partners to develop materials that promote Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM). In addition to sharing the information with farmers, every piece of promotional material has been placed into a searchable library on the ASHC website. A good number of our materials fall within the 2016 World Soil Day theme; 'Soils and pulses, a symbiosis for life' covering crops such as common bean, soybean and groundnut.

The ASHC collection of material is not just an archive of our work, but is meant to be an inspiration to others who regularly face the task of repackaging information materials to increase uptake of technologies. We know how intimidating it can be sitting looking at a blank sheet or, even more difficult, a dense scientific publication and trying to produce a guide for farmers or a poster for an agro-dealer’s shop.

Soil day blog
By sharing all the materials that have been developed on an open access basis we hope we will make it easier for others to create new inspiring materials. You can download materials developed by the consortium and adapt them where necessary for a specific context or agro-ecological zone. You may be inspired by a format, or decide to adapt some of the text from a leaflet that you think would inspire farmers. Often artwork or photographs can be shared too, as many of the materials are presented as Creative Commons. From handbooks, to field guides, flyers, leaflets and posters, the array keeps expanding. We have even recently uploaded radio transcripts from our partnership work in Tanzania to support audiences that work with radio.

The ASHC online library currently consists of 414 materials developed in partnerships involving more than 60 leading organizations from African and beyond, and both the partnerships and collection keep growing. In fact, we have recently added some new material to the site. As the site grows, we are also keen to ensure it remains truly intuitive and responsive to the end users of each material. We will continue to undertake refinements to the online resource in 2017 to ensure increased openness of ASHC materials, improved search functionality, linkage to relevant open data source content as well as available tools to help users develop their own ISFM materials.

Currently you can search by:

  • 26 crops from banana to yam
  • 25 languages from Arabic to Zama
  • 40 African counties from Angola to Zimbabwe
  • 17 formats from audio to social media
  • 11 suggested target audiences from agro-dealers to universities
  • 10 ISFM practices from improved seed to rotation

The core users of the materials library include extension support teams, scientists, input producers, policy-makers and communications specialists.

For more information on ASHC, see:

By Duncan Sones, Africa Soil Health Consortium


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