3. Burundi: Everyone benefits when farmers collect food scraps from city (Syfia Grands Lacs)

| December 21, 2009

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At least three times a week, Bernard Nyandui rides his bike into Ngozi city. He leaves his farm to collect something which helps his crops grow. The Burundian farmer collects food scraps from city dwellers: discarded banana and potato peels, vegetable and sugarcane scraps. All these are waste to city dwellers, but they make good compost.

The practice of collecting scraps from the city has become popular in northern Burundi. More and more farmers like Mr. Nyandui are making regular trips to the city. The cost of chemical fertilizer is one reason that farmers are keen to make compost. Chemical fertilizer costs up to 2.5 American dollars per kilogram (approximately 1.8 Euros). This is too much for average farmers to afford.

Compost made from food scraps is a great alternative. It provides crops with needed nutrients. And unlike chemical fertilizers, compost also improves soil quality.

Food scraps also make good animal feed. Banana and potato peels are eaten by cows, goats, and sheep. All sorts of discarded restaurant food are consumed by pigs.

City dwellers are more than happy to get rid of their food waste. Nadia is a restaurant manager in Ngozi. She is pleased to give her food scraps to farmers. The area around her restaurant is clean. And she no longer has to pay someone to handle the garbage.

In fact, entire neighbourhoods of Ngozi are in better condition. Zainabu is chief of the Kigarama district. He says there used to be piles of trash around his neighbourhood. But thanks to farmers looking for compost, the area is now clean.

Both farmers and city dwellers enjoy the benefits when compost is used. Crops from local fields are more abundant. Farmers enjoying good harvests can offer better prices for their produce. This has stabilized food prices in the city. The price of beans has remained the same, even during the lean period.

Farmers collecting waste from the city do have one concern. Some garbage contains more than just food scraps. They must be careful not to use plastic bags, materials that have been contaminated with chemicals, or scraps that have been mixed with motor oil. These things can contaminate the soil and prevent good water infiltration.