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When N2Africa was invited to prepare for a second phase, our funding partner the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation challenged us to develop a business led approach. N2Africa had rapidly achieved a ‘proof of concept’ of our (GL x GR) x E x M approach - that we need well-adapted legume varieties (GL), rhizobial inoculation (GR) where needed, and that the technologies for crop management (M) need to be tailored to the local conditions (E). Above all we found that the closing of legume yield gaps at farm scale depends on the critical role of good agronomy and integrated soil fertility management to manage deficiencies of phosphorus and other nutrients such as potassium (and less commonly secondary nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and sulphur and micronutrients, notably zinc). We were already working with large numbers of farmers and had learned a lot about the adaptation of technologies to local conditions. The new challenge was to move to scales of operation and to reach farmers in numbers that we had never imagined possible.

To start, public private partnerships – PPPs – were a vague notion that was given shape and meaning with leadership from our team of Business Development Officers under Edward Baars. Over the past two years the PPP concept has been embraced by N2Africa and has taken off at a scale we could not envisage when we embarked on this journey. We devote this issue of the N2Africa Podcaster to examples of PPPs that have been established. We’re really excited by the approach and the strong engagement with private sector partners. We’re delighted to include some articles contributed by partners. We have a saying in English that "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" (Freddy Baijukya tells me that the equivalent in Swahili is "radha ya chakula aijuaye muonja") and we look forward to seeing the outputs from these PPPs over the coming years. We have an increasing number of requests for collaboration across the countries where N2Africa is active and it is clear we have become a "go to" project based on the successful partnerships we have formed to date.

In addition to the focus on PPPs, we have some other news items and announcements from the different countries and links to new student theses and papers. We hope you’ll enjoy reading and look forward to your feedback!

Ken Giller