Composting in North-East Ghana

With it’s short growing season and without any livestock, composting was and is not a common practice in the Savannah of north-eastern Ghana. But it’s crucial, to keep the fields fruitful. 

“These fields are only good for a parking lot” – this was the devastating analysis of a professor for agriculture. But those fields were and are the only thing that the communities in North-East Ghana have, to have enough to eat for their families and in the best case, generate a small income. So not doing nothing was not an option. To ensure that the 450 soybean fields of the Anoshe Women Cooperative generate any significant yield at all, we carried out extensive fertilizer measures in 2017, together with the local Rural Development Organization. Using also mineral fertilizer to compensate for the enormous phosphorus deficiency. Now, after this first “vitamin injection” we are convinced that the fertility of the soil can best be maintained and further amounted by regularly adding compost as natural fertilizer. 

But with the short growing season of the region and no livestock, composting was and is not a common practice in North-East Ghana. The farmers run a small three-field economy, hoping that one field of corn and one field of millet will cover the food demand of the family for a year. The third field is supposed to rest and “revive” in rotation. The women know that fertilizing is important – but there is a lack of organic matter and manure to fertilize the fields sufficiently. So how go about it? 

So we wrote a manual and organized a fertilizing workshop in January. Ein Handbuch zeigt die wichtigsten Schritte beim Kompostieren @Sabab Lou

The Workshop begins. 

Alhassan und Edith stehen in der ausgehobenen Kompostgrube und demonstrieren, wie man Stöcke zum Entlüften in der Erde platziert. ©Akor Munkaila Fusheini/ Sabab Lou

Alhassan und Edith how to place the sticks for ventilation into the pit. 

Kompost-Workshop in Ghana. Projektleiter Akor hilft eine Lage Blätter einzubringen. ©Sabab Lou

Projekt manager Akor helps add try leaves to the compost pit. 

Kompost-Workshop in Ghana: Tierdung und Asche werden aufgetragen. ©Sabab Lou

Ashes and manure are added. 

Kompost-Workshop in Ghana - Zwischendurch müssen die Schichten mit Wasser befeuchtet werden. ©Sabab Lou

In between the layers have to be watered. 

Edith demonstriert, dass sie bitte auch Urin verwenden sollen, wegen des Phosphorgehaltes ©Sabab Lou

Edith demonstrates that the women should please also add urin, if the can. The phosphate in the urin helps make the compost. 

Abgedeckt mit Stroh, um Feuchtigkeitsverlust zu vermeiden sieht es dann so aus @Sabab Lou

Covering the compost pit with straw helps prevent the layers from drying out. 

Kompostieren in Ghana: Eine Kompost-Grube mit Stroh und Tierdung ©Sabab Lou

Then the compost starts decomposing. 

Perfect Compost!

After the workshop, the women went to work and started their own compost.

Since it was the dry season already, it was not easy to get enough biomass, such as grass, leaves, thin branches or plant residues. But the women got creative. They used Pomance from the local Pitu breweries, a weakened banana tree was dissected, and sometimes grass was collected on the edge of small waterholes. They got some animal manure from their few sheep and goats. And otherwise they collected the cow dung from passing cattle of noman tribes.  

After several weeks of adding new layers and turning the old ones, the compost was ready… and the results were impressive. The compost looks just as in our example in the manual. Perfect compost!

Fertiger Kompost in Ghana ©Sabab Lou

Fast wie in unserem Handbuch. Großartig!

No pit after pit are being dug out and put into bags, so that the home made compost can be added to the fields in about 6 weeks. 

Kompost Grube wird ausgehoben ©Sabab Lou

Der Kompost wird ausgehoben und in Säcke gefüllt.

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