Sale of manure brings in more cash to Kenyan farmers

As organic farming picks up in Kenya, livestock farmers are making a living selling manure that is steadily becoming the fertiliser of choice for many.

African women farmers

The farmers, mainly those who keep poultry, cows, sheep and goats, are selling a 90kg sack for up to 5 U.S. dollars as demand rises.

African women farmers
In the capital Nairobi, the livestock farmers are based in satellite towns bordering the city, which include Ruai, Rongai, Kitengela, Athi River, Kiambu, Uthiru, Ngong, Ruiru and Juja.

Fredrick Munene keeps 500 kienyeji (indigenous) chickens on part of his land in Juja, where his house is also located.

The farmer gets about 400 eggs every day, about half that he hatches in an incubator, while he sells the rest at 0.20 dollars each.

Every two weeks, Munene normally cleans his storeyed chicken coops ending up with up to 10 bags of litter that he sells to vegetable farmers.

“So far I have at least two bookings that I am planning to meet by early next month. I sell a bag at between 3 and 5 dollars, earning at least 40 dollars after every two weeks from the poultry litter,” said Munene, adding that he is planning to expand his brood to 1,000 by the end of the year for more profit.

Munene sells the litter to three farmers in the suburb, two of them growing traditional vegetables while the other capsicums in a greenhouse.

Collected from the chicken coop, poultry litter comprises a mixture of droppings, feathers, bedding material, feeds and water.

According to agricultural experts, the litter is a good source of organic manure, with nutrient concentration of the litter depending on the type and amount of bedding material, poultry kept, number of birds, the nutrients included in the poultry diet and the age of the chickens.

One should collect the litter after every two weeks to curb diseases, said Bernard Moina, an agricultural officer based in western Kenya.

“Once it is removed from the chicken coop, do not apply it directly on the plants as it might burn them because it contains a lot of urea. Pile it in a sack for it to compost and apply after about two weeks,” he said, adding that there’s little risk of toxic build-ups in plants with organic fertiliser.

The story is no different for dairy cattle farmers who are selling a sack of cow dung at an average of 2.9 dollars.

“You have to book at least two weeks in advance especially if you need bulk manure. Myself I am lucky because I get my manure from Maasai livestock keepers who rear tens of cows, but still it is not a guarantee that one would get because demand is high,” said Collins Rethi, who grows tomatoes on three-quarter acres in Kitengela, South of Nairobi.

Ever since he started farming three years ago, Rethi has never used inorganic fertiliser. “I started by growing onions for two seasons before I switched to tomatoes. I normally apply the fertiliser two months before I plant to give it time to decompose,” he said, adding that as the plants grow, he applies foliar fertiliser for foliage development making his farming purely organic.

Extensive use of chemical fertiliser, according to agricultural experts, alters the soil pH, upsets the soil eco-system, leads to high pests, and pollution. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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