CASE STUDY ZIWAY: VALORISATION OF COMPOST IN FARMING SYSTEMS
In the Ziway area composting by now is a common way of treating organic resources. At the site of SME (Soil and More Ethiopia) up to 250 tons of fresh organic matter is being recycled daily producing compost. At present the use of compost by farmers in the surrounding areas is however still limited due to both a lack of appreciation of the added value of compost in the fertilization scheme of the farm and a negative perception of the quality of compost. Hence the development of a trading system to enhance nutrient recycling still needs to be developed. At present relatively small amounts of compost are being traded partially based on external support from aid groups.
ADDED VALUE OF FGI
At present the recycling of organic resource already has taken shape but the demand side from agriculture still needs to be developed. The activities of this FGI case therefore initially focus on the characterization of compost in terms of composition and impact on the environment. The latter aspect is relevant since farmers are still somewhat reluctant to use compost in their fertilization scheme despite the clear added value and impact on soil quality. Optimization of fertilization schemes through balancing inputs and outputs considering both mineral and organic fertilizer will reduce potential losses resulting from standard fertilizer application or can reduce shortages in case of a lack of fertilizer. A careful balances between merits (nutrients, organic matter) and side-effects (accumulation of unwanted substances) is part of the assessment so as to avoid a (chemical) degradation of the soil.
Higher yields and improved soil quality ultimately will provide more food to local farmers and also generate higher income from the farm. Also the labour demand will be reduced, notably in regard of the improved soil structure requiring less time for ploughing.
Application of compost as part of the fertilization scheme on the farm in addition to mineral fertilizer should increase relevant parameters in view of soil quality notably it should result in an increase in organic matter content which in turn leads to a higher water holding capacity (reducing the amount of water needed for irrigation) soil fertility through supply of nutrients and improved soil structure through stabilization of the soil by organic matter.
Our vision is that improved soil fertilization regimes will provide a more stable basis for sustainable food production. Improvement of soil quality, both in terms of physical and chemical characteristics will reduce the demand for water which can further improve the productivity of the soil.
At present the costs for distribution of compost to farmers is paid for by HoAREC. Also revenues for the composting company (SME) are limited. By providing evidence of the added value of compost on both crop yields, labour demand and farm income, This FGI case aims to generate sufficient increase in income of the farmer that would allow him (or her) to spend part of this income to pay for compost thus reducing the need to external financial inputs from third parties.
OPTIONS FOR SCALING
Results from the case study also serve as potential blue print to be applied in other regions provided that a stable input of organic resources is present. The emphasis in this study on raising awareness by farmers of the added value of compost to reduce the present negative perception of the potential of organic resources can also be used in other regions to stimulate the use of (organic) fertilizers aside from mineral fertilizers.
Soil and More Ethiopia is the main partner in this project providing compost to be assessed in the assessment studies (quality of compost). SME also can provide facilities for training courses to be organised for both students and staff working in specific research projects.
The project is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.