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Recycling waste to become the affordable and sustainable solution in fertiliser crisis

Ashaiman, April 2022 -  With the prices of chemical fertiliser currently being at a record high, due to scarcity of key nutrients and unprecedented global price increase in oil and gas, organic fertiliser is rapidly becoming an affordable and competitive alternative to chemical fertiliser. The Minister of Food and Agriculture Ghana, Owusu Afriyie Akoto, recently urged smallholder farmers to use organic fertiliser in crop production in the wake of the global fertiliser shortage. The Ministry aims “to mitigate the impact on crop production and farmers, increase yield and prevent a possible shortage in the country.” In an article on Ghanaweb.com, he states: “We at the Ministry have a strategy to at least alleviate the full impact of what is happening, which is to encourage farmers to apply organic fertiliser.”

As a recycling company based in Ashaiman (Greater Accra Area) Safisana has recently doubled the production of its premium organic fertiliser Asase Gyefo to meet the local market demands in Ghana. “Local food production chains need to be supported in order to secure food availability”, Kofi Boateng, Senior Manager of Safisana Ghana says.

Enhancing food security
The long-term and environmental benefits of using highly nutritive organic fertilisers like Asase Gyefo are evident and outclass the results of chemical fertilisers. “Instead of exhausting the soil, as chemical fertilisers do, the organic fertiliser feeds the soil with important macro and micronutrients in such a way that it generates long term improvements in terms of soil structure, soil health and fertility", Boateng explains. In a comparative study, conducted in the Department of Crop Science, University of Ghana, by Dr. Naalamle Amissah’s research group it was concluded that the use of Asase Gyefo Premium organic fertiliser can lead to up to a 20 per cent increase in yields. This is due to the fact that there is no time needed in-between harvests for the land to rest or replenish, and due to its high nutrient value, containing double amounts of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, which makes fruits and vegetables grow faster. 

Supply shortage 
The price development in the disrupted global fertiliser market makes the use of organic fertiliser even more attractive. Over the last few months, global fertiliser market has been alarmed by scarcity. The chemical fertiliser industry, as one of the biggest gas-consuming industries worldwide, is severely under pressure due to price increases for oil and gas, and the growing scarcity of key ingredients and nutrients such as Ammonia (for nitrogen), Phosphoric acid (for phosphorus) and Potash (for potassium). In March this situation was exacerbated due to the war in Ukraine, since Russia and Ukraine, both major exporters of fertilisers in the world, decided to ban fertiliser exports. The effects of the fertiliser crisis are expected to lead to global price increases for food and food shortage. Especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, governments expect the supply shortfall to affect food security with lower yields and price increases in agricultural products. The Ghana Chamber of Agribusiness recently said: “We predict that this year’s supply will be even worse, making fertiliser scarce in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is always vulnerable to these shocks because we are a net importer of the commodity.”

Recovery of nutrients vs. mining
Whereas the production of artificial fertiliser heavily depends on the use of natural gas and the mining of nutrients such as phosphorus that will be exhausted by the end of this century at the current pace of extraction - the production of organic fertiliser is based on the concept of recycling, reuse and recovery of nutrients and goes without the use of natural gas,   Kofi Boateng, Senior Manager of Safisana Ghana explains: “We collect organic waste from the local food markets and local industries and use this together with human waste as a resource for the production of organic fertiliser. Since the human diet is much more varied and rich than cattle feed, this is what makes our fertiliser so effective. Key ingredients and nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, are recovered and reused from the waste through a process of composting.  The result is a highly nutritive premium organic fertiliser which is good for the soil, good for the plants and good for the planet. We should change towards circular food production models in order to prevent important nutrients to get exhausted.”

Contact us for site tours and interviews with
Kofi Boateng,Senior Manager at Safisana Ghana, and 
Naalamle Amissah, Head of Crop Science at the University of Ghana

Safisana Ghana Ltd.
+233 (0) 302972380
ghana@safisana.org

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