Farmers in Busoga region have embraced on-farm making of animal fertilisers as a strategy to cut costs, but also to generate better crops yields and income.
The technology has become a goldmine from which progressive farm enterprises, both in rural and urban areas, are thriving.
Observing that organic manure is cheaper and more effective than artificial fertilisers, the rural and urban farmers who interfaced with Harvest Money said the on-farm trend of generating fertilisers is paying off.
A 90kg bag of well-composted livestock manure in and around Kampala goes for sh36,000-plus, while in the rural setting, a 100kg bag costs between sh7,000 and sh10,000.
Vision Group’s Uganda’s Best Farmers from Busoga region are testimony that livestock waste is gold from which they bag “good” money.
One such farmer is Julius Bataamye, a 2017 winner, who has turned his chicken droppings, heifers’ and pigs’ dung into cash on his JB Farm Naminage, Kamuli district.
He has 5,500 pigs, 95 heifers and 15,000 chickens and 150 turkeys, whose waste accumulates on a daily basis.
Bataamye then packs the waste in 10kg, 15kg and 25kg bags, which he sells for sh2,500, 5,000 and sh10,000 respectively.
For the upcoming farmers that cannot afford the costs, Bataamye slashes the rates by half. At times, he donates the waste to active farmer groups in the bid to empower them.
Still in Kamuli district, Johnson Basangwa, a 2014 Vision Group’s Uganda’s Best Farmer, sells a 50-100kg bag of the chicken droppings at between sh5,000-sh10,000 each.
Each day, Basangwa’s JEKA Poultry Farm, which has over 35,000 layers, generates many bags of droppings, translating to weekly and monthly earnings.
In Ssaza zone in Kamuli town, Hamida Nabirye, a livestock farmer, also heaps the waste of his 10 heifers, attracting buyers after every four months.
She told Harvest Money that the innovation earns her sh150, 000 and sh250,000 every four months.
Most of his customers are practising rural and urban agriculture, featuring courtyard and backyard gardens of green vegetables, eggplant, cabbages, spinach, sukuma wiki etc.
Edward Malevu Kuremu, a farmer at Kitimbo Road in Kamuli town in Kamuli municipality, said he discovered that animal waste was gold during the Jinja Agricultural and Trade show six years ago.
The above testimonies are the few told stories on the benefits of accumulating livestock waste, a practice worth emulating.
The trend, according to the first deputy premier, Rebecca Kadaga, has gradually changed the face of farms, translating to higher crop yields and fixing food security.
Using modern technologies, including animal waste to enrich the weathered soils, Kadaga said farms featuring modern practices are now energised, the reason why the “importation” of matooke, which sued to be sourced from the western Uganda, has reduced.
What you need to know about animal waste manure
Peter Dhamuzungu, the principal science officer for chemical services in the science ministry, advises farmers on the advantages of collecting livestock waste for money.
Dhamuzungu, also the director of Busoga Seed Solutions, says organic fertilisers can be made from kitchen and farm waste, weeds, egg shells, vegetable peelings and dry leaves, among others.
Livestock waste is accumulated by heaping and covering it with raw tree twigs or wide leaves such as those of bananas.
Many farmers, Dhamuzungu explains, use raw livestock waste on their farms. But for good results, the waste should be left to decompose to ensure it cures fully.
The decomposition takes about three months before the waste is ready for use.
When it is fully cured, it supplies nutrients to the soil, translating to energized crop growth and yields on the farm. On the other hand, when not fully cured, it takes time to cure instead of enriching the soil.
Other types of manure include that obtained from decomposing waste from the farm, the compound and the kitchen.
This, Dhamuzungu explains, allows micro-organisms to come to the surface. The micro-organisms break down raw materials to cause decomposition.
Dr Fredrick Kabbale, the district production and marketing officer for Buyende, adds that on top of these, the farmer can use green materials, mostly nitrogen-rich plants such as lesbania and lucina, to make organic manure.
Through the decomposition time though, Dhamuzungu explains that the farmer needs to pour at least 3-4 litres of water every week to aid the process, especially if the mature-making process is not being done during the rainy season.
The ready compost features rotten matter void of excessive heat and a foul smell.
“You end up with a cleaner environment and your organic manure at no cost,” Dmamuzungu says.
Recycled manure technology
Recycled manure technology was introduced by KULIKA Uganda and Balimi Farmers Network International (BFI), both agro promoting organisations.
Moses Mpasa, a beneficiary of the training, is using the technology in Kamuli district.
This features the collecting of empty plastic bottles of mineral water, energy drinks, buveera or old clothes, which are set on fire.
“After combustion, leave the burnt product for a week and mix it with the soil to get recycled manure,” Mpasa says.
BANDERA chairman George Mpaata says the technology was proved not to affect human life, besides being environmentally friendly.
This is made from waste residues of the biogas system.
Jacob Kazindula Bamwise, the 2017 Vision Group’s Uganda’s Best Farmer, is bagging cash from biogas slurry.
“I scoop the waste from the tanks and squeeze out the big particles. I then pack it in five and 10-litre jerrycans for sale,” Kazindula, who learned the technology during the Netherlands Embassy sponsored trip, said.
A jerrycan cost sh5,000 and sh8,000 respectively.
The product, which is poured on the crop stalks, seeps down to enhance both growth and crop yields.
This involves rearing red worms, which break down manure by feeding on green material.
“The worms are fed on specific plants to get particular nutrients from them,” Dhamuzungu, who rears the worms, says. “To get phosphorus, for example, the red worms are fed on Russian comfrey.”
After feeding them, water is poured over the worms to seep down the nutrients, into harvesting tanks.
Farmers then irrigate their crops with nutritious tea to make them thrive energetically.
Human urine mixed with wood ash is fertiliser for food crops, especially tomatoes, without introducing any risk of diseases to consumers.
Studies indicate that microbes are killed either as a result of storage conditions or pasteurisation.
Dhamuzungu says human urine is a good source of nitrogen and phosphorus for plants such as cucumber, maize, cabbage and eggplants.
“It can be an alternative to the artificial NPK. The approximate concentration ratio of NPK in urine is 20:14, which is comparable to commercial chemical fertiliser,” Dhamuzungu says.
Wood ash, which is rich in minerals, reduces the acidity of certain soils.