Organic fertilizer: it comes in different shapes and formulations, is the perfect example of a circular approach, and turns out to be a great solution to upcycle natural waste.
Most agricultural value chains generate waste products and by-products, examples include rice husks, leaves, and coffee grounds, to name a few. Unfortunately, after harvest, even primary products often become waste, with improperly handled products becoming post-harvest losses or products that go uneaten becoming food waste.
Transforming organic waste into organic fertilizer
Storage of innovator Revitaliz’s organic fertilizer
The production of organic fertilizer is based on organic waste and by-products that are generated during agricultural processing or by households, hotels and restaurants. When organic matter is transformed into fertilizer, a whole new product is generated: one that has the power to enrich soils with nutrients, improve water-holding capacity, and enable healthy crop growth. The application of organic fertilizer also sequesters carbon in the soil. At the same time, the reduction of mineral fertilizers results in a diminished carbon footprint and decrease expenses for farmers.
Innovator LONO shows their compost
In 2023, the WE4F East and West Africa Hubs pursued a special focus on the issue of organic fertilizer. The hubs focused on organic fertilizer innovations, but were also able to develop other related activities. Due to ongoing geopolitical activities, the last two years have seen substantial impacts on international agricultural value chains and the entire agri-food system.
Across Sub-Saharan Africa, mineral fertilizer prices rose sharply in 2022, while grain imports fell dramatically. As farmers started to look for alternative ways to amend their soils, organic fertilizer gained more and more popularity.
What activities take place in the East and West African region?
Looking at the portfolio of the East and West Africa Hubs, a number of innovators already work with organic fertilizers. This includes the likes of Guavay (Tanzania), Safi Organics (Kenya), Green Impact Technologies (Malawi) and Revitaliz (Burkina Faso).
In Kenya, WE4F once again worked with the farming TV show Shamba Shape Up to produce four episodes on organic fertilizer and raise awareness among its 6 million+ weekly viewers. At the same time, hands-on training for farmers on organic fertilizer was implemented by Yielder, and RODI Kenya, targeting over 6,000 farmers in Central and Western Kenya.
In Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, WE4F partnered with farmer cooperatives to provide training on organic fertilizer, specifically on compost production and use. The representatives of the cooperatives were trained on this occasion and will each train at least 75 additional smallholder farmers in the future. In total, 2,250 smallholder farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and 750 in Burkina Faso are expected to be trained.
New partnerships with international institutions and eight innovators from East and West Africa
Together with the Alpha Mundi Foundation, the East and West Africa Hub support 8 companies that work in the field of organic fertilizers: SafiOrganics and InsectiPro (both Kenya), Chanzi (Tanzania), Agrisol (Uganda), AgriCentric (Ghana), BioProtect (Burkina Faso), LONO (Côte d’Ivoire) and Sabon Sake (Ghana). The companies are supported via a results-based financing approach to increase their production capacities, reach more farmers, and/or scale to different regions.
Claude Savadogo, CEO of BioProtect with his products
The hubs also formed a grant agreement with the Collective Leadership Institute (CLI), a non-profit organization supporting local, national and international multi-stakeholder collaboration. Together with WE4F, CLI aims to establish an international organic fertilizer network. To achieve this objective, the institute connects key stakeholders of the organic fertilizer sector and fosters cross-regional exchanges between innovators to enable an environment for production, marketing, access, and transport of organic fertilizer locally.
By increasing awareness on organic fertilizers, training farmers, and supporting companies, WE4F helps connect the supply and demand sides that drive the organic fertilizer sector. For WE4F, the topic of organic fertilizers has become more important than ever before as the initiative aims to sustainably produce more environmentally-sustainable food while reducing water and energy use.
Kilian Blumenthal, Advisor in the WE4F East Africa Hub | firstname.lastname@example.org
Alida Toé, Junior Advisor in the WE4 West Africa Hub | email@example.com