KABANYOLO – Makerere University in partnership with Tursam (U) Ltd., Sokoine University of Agriculture, Guavay Company Ltd (Tanzania) and Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology are piloting a technology for industrial-scale production of Pelletised and Biologically Nitrogen-enhanced organic fertilizer in Uganda.
The three-year project (2018-2020) titled, “Nitrogen bio-fortified and pelletised commercial-grade organic fertilizer made from urban biowaste to improve soil productivity and livelihoods of smallholder farmers”, is being led by Prof. Anthony Mushandate from the University of Dar-es-salaam and funded by ICIPE UNDER Bio-Innate Program.
At Makerere University, the project is spearheaded by Dr. Stephen Lwasa from the Department of Agribusiness and Natural Resource Economics (DANRE) in the School of Agricultural Sciences.
Speaking during the Farmers training held at the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MAUARIK) late last year, Dr. Lwasa said three crops – maize, onions, and rice are under study at MUARIK, and three Ugandan districts of Iganga, Masindi and Wakiso.
The training was also attended by Prof. Amelia Kivaisi from the University of Dar-es-salaam, and Mr. Ahadi Katera from Gauvay Company Ltd Tanzania who is the manufacturers of the Nitrogen bio-fortified and pelletized commercial-grade organic fertilizer made from urban bio-waste.
Dr. Lwasa said the successful production of any crop begins with god soils while a fertile, biologically active soil provides plants with most of the nutrients needed for good growth and high yield.
He observed that Africa’s farmlands are often low in nutrients, are affected by soil erosion, lack sufficient organic matter and are limited to their ability to hold water.
He said the objectives of the project are to establish and pilot technology for industrial-scale production of pelletized and biologically Nitrogen- enhanced organic fertilizer from bio urban waste.
“The other objectives are; to evaluate the performance of the product with selected crops; to design and develop quality control and assurance system for the product; to establish techno-economic feasibility of the developed technology and market analysis and; to develop a business and investment plan alongside engaging potential investors”. The don explained.
The project according to Dr. Lwasa focuses on solving two main problems; one is using the abundant and poorly disposed of bio-waste in growing cities by recycling into organic fertilizer. Two; is solving the soil infertility challenge in many soils of East Africa by increasing uptake of commercial-grade and improved organic fertilizers amongst smallholder farmers.
He reported that adequate literature on major agro-ecological zones, crop nutrient requirements, soil nutrient status in Uganda has been undertaken including soil samples from the study areas.
Focus group discussions with smallholder farmers in the study areas were conducted to solicit their support, opinions and views, buy-in and attitudes regarding the bio-fertilizer. He also said, three students, undertaking BSc Horticulture and BSc Agriculture were enrolled on the project assisted by technicians to analyses the most important macronutrients of the bio-fertilizer.
“The levels of most important macronutrients (N, P, and K) in the bio-fertilizer are good enough for organic fertilizer to supplement poor soils with nutrients. The bio-pelleted fertilizer has an advantage of being pelleted that it can prolong its stay in the soil enabling crops to utilize the nutrients for a longer time without nutrient leaching”, Dr. Lwasa explained.
The bio-fertilizer he said was supplied by Guavay Co. Lt and shared with farmers who have so far appreciated the efforts and innovation.
Dr. Lwasa said as the project moves on to analyze the dry matter and soil sampling for residual effects, all farmers are willing to buy the project bio-fertilizer but the question is the cost and availability.
Prof. Amelia Kivaisi from the University of Dar-es-salaam expressed happiness over the project progress in Uganda.
She said the success of this technology will depend on the active involvement of the farmers and their feedback on the quality of the product.
She said the research and delivery of the product have to under a process including the meeting of the quality standards and cross border policies.
Mr. Ahadi Katera from Gauvay Company Ltd Tanzania decried the declining soil fertility and low agricultural yields.
He advised farmers to think of farming as a business but also do cost-benefit analyses to improve their livelihoods.
He said the company would supply the bio-fertilizer if farmers get organized under farmer groups or cooperatives.