Research and education priorities in the IPNI Northern Latin America region focus mainly on developing balanced fertilization programs for high phosphorus (P) and potassum (K) demanding plantation crops. Although banana and plantain are crops which use the most K per unit of fruit produced, adequate P must be supplied to grow top yields. Similarly, the P and K needs in balance with other nutrients are being investigated in oil palm, coffee, and cocoa. High yielding plantation crops are critical to the economies of each country in the region by helping to maintain favorable export balances and providing hard currency income.
Annual crops are important because they contribute significantly to the food needs of the people living in the region. Balanced nutrition plays a significant role in producing high yielding annual crops. Information on fertilizer management of such crops as maize, soybeans and rice, as well as a variety of horticultural and tropical tree fruit crops, has been developed and is being promoted through publications and agronomist training. Average yields are low due to poor management and inappropriate fertilizer use. The INPOFOS Northern Latin America Program, working with scientists to develop the information and through training courses for government and industry agronomists, is helping farmers understand the need for P and K to increase yields and profitability.