Rwandan farmers have recently been facing a challenge with the global rise in prices of chemical fertilisers. This raises concerns as the surge in prices affects farmers’ yields and incomes, as well as causing increase in food prices, which then poses a major threat to the country’s food security. Players in the agriculture sector are hence pushing for home-grown solutions, such as opting for locally produced fertilisers to cushion them against shocks of the global shortage. According to Charles Bucagu, the Deputy Director of Agriculture Research and Technology Transfer at Rwanda Agricultural Development and Animal Resources Board (RAB), organic manure contains more sources of protein, but there is need to use both chemical and organic fertilisers. “You need a huge amount of organic fertiliser, 10 tons per hectare because organic manure has little nutrient content. Therefore, it is a complementary to the mineral fertiliser for manure to release high nutrients in the same season for crops.” While Bucagu said there is a multi-billion fertiliser plant to produce 100,000 tons that is expected to begin production in 2023, The New Times looks at five home-grown innovative solutions aimed to increase fertiliser production. 1. Insects Earthworms, type-of-insects, produce great organic manure through a system called vermicompost. One of the agri-preneurs using this system is Dominique Xavio Imbabazi, a resident of Musanze District. He is a graduate of the University of Rwanda’s College of Agriculture where he majored in horticulture. Imbabazi mixes worms with waste which produce manure within two weeks. He sells one kilogramme of earthworms at Rwf30, 000 to other farmers who want to produce manure. “Not all insects can be used for this production; some can be poisonous to the crops. You need to find the right insect through ecology,” he said. The earthworms decompose waste into flour-looking organic manure. The system increases capacity for manure to retain water. And the produced manure does not smell, he explained. “Roots of plants, unlike chemical fertilisers, easily absorb nutrients in earthworm compost. Plants fertilised by earth compost have the capacity to obtain the nutrients and get the maximum benefit.” Imbabazi produces one ton of organic manure every week and sells it to farmers. 2. Wastes Wastes from crops such as straw, rice bran, industrial wastes such as vinasse, sugar residue, household wastes like kitchen waste, and vegetable wastes from markets and slaughterhouses, can as well produce biological manure, after safety disposal and fermentation. According to Fidele Ngirinshuti, an agriculturalist, organic fertiliser containing a variety of organic acid, peptides and rich nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, provide comprehensive nutrition for crops, also with long fertiliser effects, which can increase and update the soil organic matter and promote microbial breeding, improving soil physical and chemical properties and biological activity. 3. Animal waste According to research, organic manure can be found through poultry features from the chicken farm, hooves and cattle hooves and horns. In November 2020, Rwanda launched an Rwf15 billion project to increase poultry yields. With expected availability of raw materials, one of the investors from Europe is to establish a factory of organic fertiliser in Bugesera district. Organic fertiliser plant is expected to produce 20 million litres of organic fertilisers from hooves, horns and poultry feathers per year. Experts say that these organic products enhance the environmental quality of soil and groundwater, increase both yields and quality while protecting the environment. 4. Methane gas Apart from cooking, methane gas can also be used for agricultural purposes too, by making fertilizers from the resource. While the country currently uses the odourless, colourless, flammable gas primarily for electricity generation, a wide range of literature indicates that it can be used to manufacture organic chemicals, among other things. 5. Human waste According to experts, decomposed human faeces and urine make better manure for cultivation than manufactured fertilisers since they do not damage the natural water underground. Faeces are dried for a period of six months before they can be used as fertilisers. Farmers are also encouraged to bury the faeces under the soil so that there is no direct contact between farmers and faeces. Farmers need guidelines before they use this system for manure, to avoid germ infections.