Partnership focuses on using PlantCatalyst® to reduce Zambian farmers’ reliance on chemical fertilizers and increase yield and profit per hectare

Rapid City, SD (August 23rd, 2017) – PlantCatalyst® today announced a partnership with iDE, a Denver, CO based international non-profit dedicated to creating income and livelihood opportunities for the rural poor, to use the proprietary PlantCatalyst® technology to help farmers in the southern African country of Zambia reduce their reliance on chemical fertilizers and increase profit and yield per hectare.  The iDE partnership is the culmination of a number of research projects in the Southern Africa region involving the Zambian government, various international development organizations, including iDE, and corporate partners.  The research projects confirmed PlantCatalyst® as an important weapon in the efforts to reduce reliance on costly and potentially environmentally damaging chemical fertilizer.

PlantCatalyst® is a water additive, made with natural ingredients, that stimulates nutrient delivery and retention thereby increasing crop yield while reducing the amount of environmentally damaging chemical fertilizers needed to grow crops. This is particularly critical in Africa and developing countries, where sustainable farming practices such as crop rotation and fallow fields have not taken hold due to harsh economic conditions.

“We’re very excited to have this wonderful partnership with iDE Zambia as our first foray into the south African region,” said PlantCatalyst® CEO John Willard III.  “They’re one of the most highly respected international aid organizations in the world and have a top-notch team on the ground in Zambia so we couldn’t have asked for a better partner there.  We look forward to working with them to improve the lives of Zambian farmers and help them take another step toward moving out of poverty.”

In an effort to attack rural poverty, the international development community has placed a heavy focus on increasing profit margins and production for farmers in the developing world. The rise of fertilizer use has improved crop yields, but carried side effects such as rising costs, soil degradation and increased greenhouse gas emissions from nitrogen in fertilizer.

Adding PlantCatalyst® to a farm’s routine has been proven to reduce fertilizer usage by 30 to 50 percent, while increasing crop yield by 10 percent or more per hectare.  These effects have been repeatedly proven in a number of university studies and field trials over the company’s four decades in business.  The most recent university study was recently published in the American Journal of Plant Nutrition and Fertilization Technology and demonstrated that small amounts of PlantCatalyst® increased yields on lettuce by 13%, tomatoes by 24%, bell peppers by 48% and jalapeno peppers by 52% all by using half the recommended fertilizer rate.

Willard traveled to the Southern African region last year to identify and develop a series of research trials that would reflect standard farming practices in Zambia and Mozambique and provide proof of concept for the PlantCatalyst® product in the region.  Research projects in both countries completed in the 2016/2017 growing and harvesting season clearly demonstrated the efficacy of PlantCatalyst® by showing how adding PlantCatalyst® to a farmer’s nutrient regimen allowed them to reduce fertilizer amounts by at least 50% with no reduction in yield.  In many of the trials PlantCatalyst® also increased yield by double digit percentages, despite the massive drop in fertilizer usage, and increased seed germination and overall plant development.  

The partnership with iDE Zambia represents the first efforts to introduce PlantCatalyst® to the general smallholder farmer population in the region.  Working with the private sector, iDE Zambia will begin the market facilitation process in the 2017 growing cycle with a series of demonstration plots in the Southern, Central and Lusaka provinces in Zambia.  The demonstration plots, focusing on selected horticultural and rain fed crops, will allow local farmers to observe the effectiveness of PlantCatalyst® and educate them on the costs and benefits of replacing a substantial amount of the fertilizer they use with the much cheaper and safer PlantCatalyst® product.  After the demonstration plots are completed, PlantCatalyst® will expand distribution and sales in the region as part of the iDE structure.  The project will begin in fall of 2017.    



Invented in the mid-1960’s by award-winning chemist Dr. John Willard (PhD Purdue), PlantCatalyst® ( is a water additive catalyst designed specifically for use on plants that increases nutrient absorption among many other benefits.  This complex proprietary formulation appears to alter the molecular structure of water, creating molecule chains or “micelles”, and thus converting ordinary water into a very efficient catalyst which stimulates a variety of organic processes.  One of the most pronounced effects is an increased efficiency of nutrient transportation to the cells which helps the plant better absorb and utilize nutrients found in soil, microbes, micronutrients, fertilizers and other sources.  It also helps the plants better maximize water intake making them a bit more resistant to the effects of drought and other stressful growing conditions.   


iDE is an international non-profit organization dedicated to creating income and livelihood opportunities for the rural poor.  As one of the first organizations to unlock the power of markets to fight poverty, iDE is a pioneer.  Today, market-based development is widely recognized as a sustainable, scalable, cost-effective approach to alleviate poverty.  iDE has impacted more than 23 million people globally to date through its WASH and Agriculture Initiatives, and has an ambitious plan to double that number by 2020.  iDE works in Africa, Asia, and Central America with a longtime presence in 11 countries.