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.
The Workshop begins.
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!
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.