News / Africa

    For Cheap Fertilizer, Scoop Poop from Chicken Coop

    FILE - A farmer plows the field in Saulawa village, on the outskirts of Nigeria's north-central state of Kaduna.
    FILE - A farmer plows the field in Saulawa village, on the outskirts of Nigeria's north-central state of Kaduna.
    Heather Murdock
    The Nigerian government said it subsidizes the cost of fertilizer, but some farmers say they never see a discount, paying as much as $40 a bag.  In the Niger Delta region, some chicken farmers are offering a solution.  They say they are turning their "waste into wealth" by selling chicken manure for less than a few dollars a bag. 

    Alice Umukoro is a vegetable farmer in the oil-rich Niger Delta.  Fertilizer, she said, is supposed to be for sale for about $16 at a government-subsidized price.  

    But subsidized program  never makes it to her village, she said.  Sometimes she can buy fertilizer that was purchased at a subsidized price in the village market from someone who bought it in the city.  But the price is marked up, she said, and it is not always available.  
     
    For a long time, Umukoro said, she could only harvest a half-bucket of okra and a half-bucket of tomatoes every two days.  Now she harvests five times that much.
     
    Her secret is simple: she buys bags of chicken droppings from local poultry farms for sometimes as little as 30 cents a bag.
     
    Chicken farmers say they also benefit from the arrangement and sell for low prices to encourage vegetable farmers to come clean the manure out of their farms.

    Mathias Ojakovo is a poultry farmer in Delta State who has about 3,000 birds.  He said he makes about $25 a month selling chicken droppings to local farmers.  Larger farms, he said, can make as much as $100 a month.

    “The size of your farm determines the amount you get from waste.  What I see is most of these local farmers do prefer the local waste compared to the fertilizer that government has given to them.  Because why?  There’s not sufficient money for the government [fertilizer] so they go for the local ones,.”    

    But specialists say chicken manure to grow vegetables is trickier than using packaged fertilizer.  For example, crops can burn if the manure is not composted long enough, said Okeoghene Eboibi, a senior lecturer at Delta State Polytechnic.

    “The farmers need to be properly educated to know how to apply these fertilizers.  Because when you get the farm droppings in a rough state there it contains some acidity,” Eboibi stated.

    In 2012, the Nigerian government launched a program to expand the number of farmers who actually get the subsidized fertilizer, which was then less than 11 percent.  The government now sends text messages to millions of farmers with vouchers and instructs them where to pick up their subsidized fertilizer, substantially reducing the amount of corruption in the system.  
     
    Officials say 60 percent of farmers benefit from the subsidy program.  But in Africa’s most populated country with more than 160 million people, there are still a lot of farmers searching for fertilizer -- and turning to the chickens for help.
     
    Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from the Niger Delta. 

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora