Rwanda’s efforts to improve agriculture productivity could be boosted by the impending introduction of a new type of organic fertilisers onto the market.
The fertilisers, currently undergoing laboratory tests at the National Biogas Development Laboratory, could enable subsistence farmers increase yields by more than two fold when applied, said experts at Aquasan Tec Group of Companies, the firm developing the fertilisers.
This comes at time when the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) is importing a lot of the inorganic fertilisers to distributes to farmers under the Crop Intensification Programme (CIP).
According to RAB figures, about 83 per cent of the fertilisers used by maize, wheat, rice and Irish potatoes farmers are inorganic. In 2009, CIP imported 14,427 tonnes of fertilisers and distributed to maize and wheat growers in the rural areas at subsidised rates.
The body imported and distributed more fertilisers in 2010 (33,500 tonnes) and 2011 (22,000 tonnes).
“Producing organic fertilisers locally will increase access to manure and improve agriculture production among rural farmers. It will also have other cross-cutting benefits such as substantially reducing the need for imported inorganic fertilisers, thus help the country save foreign exchange currently spent on importing fertilisers,” Rakesh Vikram Singh, Aquasan Group general manger noted.
He added that fertilisers such as UV stabilised polyethylene, which is produced from cow dung and other waste products, can restore soil fertility for up to 30 years.
“This will relieve government of the burden of importing inorganic fertilisers,” he pointed out.
According to Chandu Shah, director of the Aquasan Tec Group, Kenya, Uganda Tanzania and South Sudan were already using organic fertilisers, which have produced encouraging results.
“Banks and micro-finance institutions should embrace and support this project by extending agricultural loans to farmers so they can acquire systems to produce the manure,” Chandu said in a statement recently.
The fertilisers are produced using an aerobic organic slurry and gas system to produce blue flame bio-slurrigaz based on the floatation drum principle.
According to experts at National Bio-gas Development Laboratory, bio-slurrigaz also has the capacity to generate bio-gas for cooking, which will help reduce the use of firewood, charcoal or kerosene.
This could help reduce the rate of environmental degradation and energy expenses incurred by rural households.