Our approach to feeding the world

4R Solution

The 4R Solution is a Canadian program that will improve agricultural productivity and sustainability for more than 80,000 smallholder farmers (50% women) in developing countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, and Senegal.

The Challenge

Half a billion people live on small farms, most of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa. These small farms, of which the majority are managed by women, produce 80 per cent of food in developing countries, employ 62 per cent of the population, and generate 27 per cent of GDP. Three key issues faced by smallholder farmers are: (1) The limited quality of their production, resulting from depleted soils, unsustainable agricultural practices, especially fertilizer usage; (2) Poor post-harvest handling and; (3) Limited access to markets.

These challenges are even more intense for women farmers who are further constrained by limited and unreliable access to land, labour, financial services and training opportunities.

The Solution

Addressing these issues will help increase resilience, incomes, and food security, and reduce poverty for men, women and children. Smallholder farmers working through their own co-operatives will grow more, nutritious, and marketable crops, benefiting from better agricultural practices, especially fertilizer usage following 4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place), a science-based fertilizer management program supported by Canada’s fertilizer industry.

Co-operatives, governments, and fertilizer suppliers will provide extension services that incorporate 4R Nutrient Stewardship.

The Approach

The Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF Canada) and Fertilizer Canada will work in partnership with governments, agricultural input companies, research institutions, and smallholder farmers organized in co-operatives. Working together, smallholder farmers and agricultural extension workers will benefit from using improved agricultural practices, especially 4R Nutrient Stewardship. Individually, farmers will benefit from increased yields and access to markets while co-operatives will increase their business, production and handling capacity, sustainably consolidating these gains. Government and research institutions will engage in research and exposure programs to increase recognition of the benefits of using 4R globally.

More Information

Download the brochure to learn more about the 4R Solution, then share with your colleagues. Spreading the word is a powerful way to help!


The project contributes to three pillars of the Government of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy including Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls, Growth that Works for Everyone, and Environment and Climate Action. In addition to placing special emphasis on improving women’s access to financial resources and agriculture technologies, and programming to address literacy, gender-based violence and masculinities, the project combines 4R Nutrient Stewardship to improve yields with conservation agriculture to improve climate change adaptation and reduce land degradation.

SDG Goals

Conservation agriculture also reduces labour requirements making it possible for women to farm more land or have more time to engage in other activities. The project will work to increase representation of women in leadership positions in agriculture extension services and in co-operatives which are in themselves schools for democracy that provide safe spaces for women and men to develop confidence to speak out for their rights in the larger community. The 4R Solution also contributes directly to SDGs 1, 2, 5, 8, 10,12,13,15 and 17.

View Sustainable Development Goals & 4R Solution

Leadership Team

Garth Whyte
President & CEO, Fertilizer Canada

Clyde Graham
Executive Vice President, Fertilizer Canada

Catherine King
Vice President, Public Affairs, Fertilizer Canada

Labonya Nirjan
4R Solution Project Coordinator, Fertilizer Canada

Ben André
Executive Director, CDF Canada

Amyn Hyder Ali
Director, Finance, CDF Canada

Frewengel Woldemichael
Regional Director, Africa, CDF Canada

Victor Neagu
Manager, Business Development & Communications, CDF Canada

Dr. Tom Bruulsema
Chief Scientist, IPNI Canada

Dr. Shamie Zingore
Africa Program Director, APNI

Samuel Njoroge Kinyanjui
Scientist, APNI

Our government is providing $15 million of funding to bring a Canadian innovation in agriculture – 4R Nutrient Stewardship best management practices – and the development expertise of the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada to address food security and economic wellbeing of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, Ghana and Senegal.

Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food


4R Solution project is supported by Global Affairs Canada and is a partnership among Co-Operative Development Foundation of Canada, Fertilizer Canada, IPNI Canada and African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI)

Fertilizer Canada

Fertilizer Canada Logo

Fertilizer Canada represents manufacturers, wholesale and retail distributors of nitrogen, phosphate, potash and sulphur fertilizers. The fertilizer industry plays an essential role in Canada’s economy, contributing $23 billion in economic activity annually and 76,000 jobs.

For more information, please visit fertilizercanada.ca.

CDF Canada

CDF Canada Logo

The Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF Canada) is an international development charity that has improved the lives of women, men, children and their communities through co-operatives for over 70 years. CDF Canada and its supporters have impacted the lives of millions of people in multiple countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

For more information, please visit cdfcanada.coop.

IPNI Canada

The International Plant Nutrition Institute, Canada (IPNI) is a not-for-profit, science-based organization dedicated to the responsible management of plant nutrition for the benefit of the human family and has initiatives addressing the world’s growing need for food, fuel, fiber, and feed.

For more information, please visit ipni.net.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is APNI_logo_2_large_x.png

The African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI) is a not-for-profit research and education institute established in March, 2019. APNI’s mission is to develop and promote sustainable plant nutrition management and innovation through research, education, and extension.

For more information, please visit: apni.net.


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