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 Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs