Nelly Bassily | April 14, 2008
A quick Internet search revealed that farmers in Burundi’s Ngozi province are not the first to experiment with rice bran as fertilizer – though it doesn’t seem to be a very common practice. More familiar uses for rice bran include feeding livestock and farmed fish.
Frustration over the rising cost and limited availability of chemical fertilizer, on the other hand, is something that farmers across Africa can relate to. The search for less expensive alternatives to chemical fertilizers is an experience that countless farmers have in common. This story mentions two kinds of organic materials than can serve as alternatives, but are not available to many farmers in Ngozi province – grass for compost and livestock manure. There are other options, however.
For more information on improving soil fertility without chemical fertilizer, you may wish to review the following scripts:
-“Farmers can earn income by producing compost” (Package 80, Script 3, March 2007)
-“Dr. Compost answers questions about soil improvement” (Package 61, Script 9, October 2001)
-“Kenyan farmer treasures the calliandra tree”(Package 74, Script 6, March 2005)
-“Legumes make their own fertilizer – with help from their friends” (Package 80, Script 8, March 2007)
-“Improve rice yields without buying fertilizer” (Package 58, Script 2, January 2001)
You could also host a call-in or text-in show that invites local farmers to share their experiences with different types of fertilizer:
-Are chemical fertilizers readily available and affordable? Has the cost or accessibility of chemical fertilizers changed in the past few years?
-What organic alternatives to chemical fertilizers have farmers tried? What was their motivation for using the organic fertilizer? For example, was it cost, availability, effectiveness, health concerns, or something else?
-If they have tried both organic and chemical fertilizers, which materials did they find most effective? What application methods worked best?