Côte d’Ivoire: Farmer uses chicken droppings to increase yields

| September 14, 2015

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Despite the cool of the morning, Ali Koné gets up early and goes to his vegetable field in Bouaké, in the northern part of Côte d’Ivoire.

The 37-year-old farmer started gardening when he was still a boy. Mr. Koné says: “From a young age, I watched my mother grow vegetables, and I used to help her. As I grew up and my mother grew a little older, I took over the farm that she [had leased] from Bouaké council.” To here

The vegetables that Mr. Koné grows are special. Unlike market gardeners who use shop-bought fertilizers, he makes organic fertilizer by mixing poultry droppings with rice residues.

Mr. Koné says his organic fertilizer produces much better results. He says: “Two weeks after transplanting, I put [organic fertilizer] in between the young vegetable seedlings and this fertilizer makes the lettuce plants grow well. This mixture seems to help the leaves grow faster than when I use chemical fertilizers.”

Mr. Koné buys his poultry droppings from nearby farmers. A bag of chicken manure costs between 500 and 750 Central African francs [US$0.85-1.25]. He says, “I sell in bulk. When there is a shortage of salad vegetables at the market, you can sell a tray for 5,000 francs [US$8.50].” Mr. Koné is a happy man. He is getting by—two of his four children are at school and he can afford to pay the fees.

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Photo: Ali Koné. Credit: Issiaka NGuessan

Assiata Koné also grows vegetables. Sitting under an orange tree, Ms. Koné examines her lettuce. She also knows how valuable chicken droppings and rice residues are for her vegetables. She says: “I am a widow. For many years, I have had to farm to feed my family. The chicken dung and [other organic materials] make my lettuce seedlings grow really well. Using natural fertilizer also makes the salad much more flavoursome than when you use chemical fertilizer.”

Dr. Joseph Kouakou is a professor at Nangui Abrogoua University in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire. He has researched the effect of poultry manure on crop production. He explains: “Poultry manure is widely used in Côte d’Ivoire for market gardening and even in commercial banana farms, as it restores the fertility of soils that are infertile through overuse.”

Dr. Kouakou describes the difference between poultry manure-based compost and chemical fertilizers. He says: “[Nutrients in] chemical fertilizer are available [to the plants] immediately, but are very expensive, complicated to use, and can be toxic to farmers who cannot read instructions. The natural fertilizer enriches the soil with humus [organic matter], is less expensive, easy to use, and is less toxic.”

Although Mr. Koné is satisfied with his current income, he has no shortage of plans for the future. He says, “I will not always have the strength to work the land. So I am saving up to buy sheep and cows to fatten and sell.”