Twenty-six-year-old Xavio Dominique Imbabazi graduated from University of Rwanda’s College of Agriculture with a degree in horticulture last year. But he couldn’t find a job for several months.
“After a while I remembered that my dissertation was on turning waste into organic fertiliser using earthworms, a system known as vermicompost. That’s when I started to think how I can put that into practice,” he tells Sunday Times, tracing the moments that inspired him to venture into the world of entrepreneurship.
He says, later, he used earthworms imported from America which he mixed with earthworms collected from Rwanda and carried out hybridisation to get those that he is using today.
“I tried eight kinds of earthworms until I got those which are able to decompose waste. 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 says.
Roots of plants, unlike chemical fertilizers, easily absorb the nutrients in earthworm compost.
Plants fertilised by earth compost have capacity to obtain the nutrients and get the maximum benefit.
Imbabazi makes loads of waste that capture warmth and after a week he mixes the waste with earthworms. He then starts pouring water into it in well-constructed structured.
He tells Sunday Times that when he was at school writing his dissertation he tested 50kg of organic fertilizer from earthworm compost which provided a harvest of 19 tonnes of Irish potatoes per hectare in Musanze District.
“I started to replicate the system on farmlands. Currently, I produce five tonnes of organic fertilizer in three months which I sell to farmers, my target is 20 tonnes in three months,” he says.
He says he doesn’t buy waste but only pays transport for those who supply waste to him. Currently, he said, he’s working with University of Rwanda, which supports him in testing his output in laboratories.
“I’m also working with the University so can I get market. Many farmers lack manure and only use chemical fertilizer which deplete soil nutrients,” he added.
His project is one of the social innovations that were showcased during a three-day youth conference last week which sought solutions to community challenges.
The conference was organised by DOT Trust and the 100 youth delegates who took part were required to have spent the previous four to six months designing, testing, and launching a social enterprise project that addresses a challenge in their community
Imbabazi is one of young social innovators and leaders from 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and Canada who attended the young innovators meeting in Bugesera District to share their experience, best practices and accomplishments.
The others were drawn from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Jordan, Lebanon, Ghana and Canada.
The Minister for Youth and ICT Jean Philbert Nsengimana encouraged young innovators to actively contribute toward finding solutions to social challenges.