Nelly Bassily | July 7, 2008
In Nkongsamba, an agricultural town located about 200 kilometres from Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital, the soaring price of chemical fertilizers has changed the way farmers look at manure.
Over the past year, the price of a 50-kilogram bag of chemical fertilizer has risen from 12,000 CFA Francs (29 American Dollars or 17 Euros) to 18,000 CFA Francs (43 American Dollars or 27 Euros). Fifty-eight-year-old Lisette Youtcheu used to apply only chemical fertilizers to her small fields of maize, cassava, and peanuts. But the high cost of chemical fertilizers led her to try pig manure, this year. She explains that she paid 9,000 CFA Francs (21 American dollars or 14 Euros) to obtain half a bag of chemical fertilizer. She also paid 4,800 CFA Francs (11 American Dollars or 7 Euros) to buy four 50-kilogram bags of dried manure. Ms. Youtcheu fed her crops with a mixture of the two fertilizers. She saved a lot of money and still received the same quality and quantity of production as in previous years when she used only chemical fertilizers. She regrets ignoring organic fertilizers for so long.
Sixty-three-year-old Anne Ngoueke is a bit more upset with herself. In 2007, she borrowed 30,000 CFA Francs (72 American Dollars 46 Euros) to buy two bags of chemical fertilizer for her land. But she couldn’t afford to apply fertilizer a second time, so her harvest was poor. Meanwhile, her son, a pig farmer, was throwing away manure right in front of her eyes. Now, because of the soaring price of chemical fertilizers and after hearing another farmer’s success story, her habits have changed. Before planting her seeds, she now collects, stores, and dries pig manure for her bean and maize crops.
Nkongsamba farmers who do not have easy access to these traditional yet newly discovered fertilizers now buy them from other farmers. This means a new source of revenue for David Wambo, who has been a poultry, rabbit, and pig breeder since 1963.From what he’s seen, Mr. Wambo asserts that, over the past four years, the constantly increasing cost of chemical fertilizers has prompted more growers to seek pig and chicken manure. In previous years, he used to throw away excess manure after using what he needed on his fields of soy, maize, and pepper. Today, demand for manure tends to exceed supply. Mr. Wambo sells a 50-kilogram bag of pig manure for 1,500 CFA Francs (4 American Dollars or 2 Euros) and chicken manure for 2,000 CFA francs (5 American Dollars or 3 Euros). The seasoned farmer doesn’t understand why it’s taken so many years for other farmers to realize that animal dung, previously thought to be good only for trash, is a real alternative to increasingly expensive chemical fertilizers.
Click here to see the notes to broadcasters on manure fertilizer