Business News of 2014-02-08

New organic compost improves yields

A new organic compost -- Biochar -- to improve on the yields of agri-businesses as well as reduce the poverty rate in the north has been introduced to farmers.

Biochar is a natural fertiliser made from rice-husk, chicken manure and charcoal, which is mixed to form compost with no chemicals applied to it.

It is organic compost that does not contain any poisonous chemical and has no side-effects on the crops. Rather, it drives away pests and the land can be used the following year without more fertiliser.

The project to introduce the fertiliser, which started in 2011, has made lots of impact because it has a component that holds water and contains nutrients needed by the plants to grow well.

Mrs. Kathrin Roessler, a scientist from the Free University of Berlin, Germany, where the fertiliser was developed, told the B&FT in an interview that research has shown that soil fertility in the three northern regions has decreased, making it difficult to harvest well every year.

She noted that with the use of the fertiliser, plant nutrients hardly wash away and the leaves of the plants also look greenish and healthier.

According to her, the project is done annually with free distribution of the fertilisers to farmers. She stressed that annual data is collected to ascertain the impact of the fertiliser and how to improve on it.

She encouraged farming unions to join to make the project a success and ensure good yields annually.

The B&FT visited some of the beneficiary farms and observed that they had been divided into two: one part where Biochar had been applied and resulted in good greenish leaves, and the less verdant part where the fertiliser had not been applied.

Mr. Peter Billa, Project Coordinator of the Abokobi Society of Switzerland in Tamale, said the organisation sponsors the project and educates farmers on how to apply the fertiliser to help achieve its purpose.

He said 20 farmers benefitted from the project last year, and they hope to assist 120 farmers next season. He said the organisation further inspects the farms of the beneficiaries to ensure that the right thing is done to prevent any problems to the farmer and the crops.

Mr. Yussif Hamza, a beneficiary who the B&FT met on the field, commended the organisation for the kind gesture, saying the fertiliser has made them harvest about 10 bags of maize this year as compared to the previous year, when he harvested about four 4-5 bags.

Some of the beneficiaries included Maltiti Farmers Union, Tungteya Farmers Union, Suguru Viella Women, Franz Zemps Neighbourhood Farmers, Taimako Farmers Union, Karaga Framers Union, Nyon Farmers Union, Presbyterian COG Mile 7, SARI, as well as five 2012 Best Tamale Women Farmers.

Source: B&FT
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