Guinea: Farmers restore soil fertility with composted market waste

| July 15, 2013

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Two years ago, Mamadou Sylla’s yields were so abundant that he was able to fill a twelve-wheeler truck with his harvest.

He says: “The house that you see there? I built it after only two crops of peppers. In 2010, I filled two trucks with my own produce to send to market in Conakry.”

But since diamonds were discovered in his village of Goloya, there has been a considerable reduction in soil fertility.

Mamadou Camara represents the village farmers’ association. He says that when diamond mining began in the village, the farmers started to have problems with their soils. He adds, “We had a lean period. Our crops did not produce. We didn’t know what to do. ”

The village of Goloya is about 10 kilometres from Kindia, the regional capital of Basse-Guinea. Mr. Sylla and other village farmers decided they had to take action to rehabilitate their soils.

They made an arrangement with Kindia’s town council to truck waste from the big city market back to Goloya. The mayor of Kindia agreed to make three old trucks available.

The farmers’ association collects 10 million Guinean francs ($1430 US) every month through the contributions of individual members. This money buys fuel for the trucks and pays the drivers’ wages and the cost of maintaining the trucks.

On Sundays, the farmers gather to sort through the market waste. Non-degradable materials such as plastics and metal are separated from organic matter to prevent them from polluting the fields.

Farmers then make a pile with the organic rubbish and leave it for up for 25 days. Once the garbage has turned into compost, the farmers use it to fertilize their fields.

The farmers also dug ditches around their fields. The ditches act as a barrier against the sand in the runoff produced from the by-products of diamond mining.

Using compost as a fertilizer has worked well. Mamadou Camara says that, since farmers started these practices, they have restored Kindia’s reputation as the breadbasket of coastal Guinea. Mr. Camara says: “You can see; there are five trucks about to be loaded with vegetables. There are more than 300 bags of eggplants, 100 bags of sorrel, and 200 bags of peppers.”

With their harvests once more abundant, Goloya’s farmers are faced with a new problem, but one that they welcome. They will soon need to build a new warehouse to store their bounteous harvests.