Business

Rise of organic fertiliser

 

Going by increasing demand for food and ever-increasing population, the global fertiliser market is projected to reach $232.221billion by 2025.

Of this figure, however, international research firm, marketsandmarkets.com said the biofertiliser market, made up of fertilising products such as bacteria, algae and fungi help to increase crop productivity, could hit $ 3.9 billion during the forecast period. Also is organic fertiliser obtained from animal sources such as animal manure or plant sources.

This is driven primarily by the increasing organic farmland as well as the rising acceptance of biofertiliser among farmers.

Buttressing this, the Fertiliser Market report 2020 to 2025, published by Research and Markets.com posits that the rising awareness among the consumers on the effects of various agrochemicals on human health and the environment is boosting the demand for organic fruits and vegetables across regions.

 

Fastest-growing market

In Nigeria, the agriculture and agri-food sector is a key economic driver and the organic food industry is considered one of the fastest-growing of this market.

In the last 10 years, many consumers have been placing greater demand on the organic foods industry, creating a need for more advanced organic fertiliser products.

To keep up with consumer demand, farmers are switching to organic farming methods that require a focus on environmentally-friendly pest-control and soil regulation methods, including alternatives to chemical-based fertiliser.

For instance, a young entrepreneur, Mayowa Oyinkanola, is championing the use of natural manure to grow crops. His Green Organic Farm is making a success of its mission to grow sustainable, quality, certified organic food for families, friends, neighbours, local community and businesses.

Oyinkanola grows plants, fruits, vegetables and raise poultry. He started the business with a soft loan of N100,000 from his  father.  Today, the farm is worth millions of naira. He has raised crops using organic fertiliser. He found that the yield and quality of the crop was good. Oyinkanola sees a huge opportunity in the organic farm business.

It is clear to him that agricultural success is vital to Nigeria’s economy and the sustenance of its citizens. However, farmers, according to him, confront expensive farming chemicals.

To address this, Oyinkanola is promoting lower-cost, fertiliser from natural resources that can help farmers cut costs, increase crop yield, revive soil and reduce pollution.

While the majority of farmers use chemical fertiliser because of promised increased productivity and higher crop yields, Oyinkanola believes, they were unaware of the negative long-term effects it could have on the soil.

His concern is that the continuous absorbing of chemical fertiliser into the soil over a long period destroys the ecosystem of microorganisms that supply crops with vital nutrients. This leaves farmers with a low yield of crops depleted of nutrients.

With natural components, he sees farmers cutting costs on chemical fertiliser and pesticides.

The transition to organic farming has given rise to a new organic fertiliser that builds soil health and reduces the environmental impact on agricultural production.

 

Demand boosting organic food products

Speaking with The Nation, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Soil Resources Management, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Dr. Olugbenga Ade Oluwa, attributed the growing use of organic and natural fertiliser to demand for organic food products is mainly attributed to a rise in consumer awareness about the potentially harmful effects of chemicals in the food chain, especially among millennials.

He has travelled the country teaching farmers how to create healthy soil. He warned that although Nigeria has rich soils in the world, increase use of chemical fertiliser will deplete farmland of essential nutrients.

He said: “It has been observed for some time now, that farmers doing crop production prefer to use natural or organic fertiliser. From their observations, they found that mineral source of fertiliser was gradually killing their land. The farmlands run dry of fertility so soon. Most mineral fertiliser supply three or at most four of the 16 essential nutrients that the soil needs.

“With the use of organic fertiliser such as compost, manure, crop minerals among others, farmers realised that they were restoring more fertility to the soil. Scientifically, it has been confirmed that organic or natural fertiliser is superior to chemical fertiliser on a long-term basis. A few years ago, a scientist discovered that using urine as a fertiliser for maize increased the yield much more than chemical fertiliser. We have seen it in potato. We have compared the yield using urine and compost. It was better than mineral fertiliser. These are some of the reasons farmers go for natural or organic fertiliser for crop production. About three years ago, I visited a five acre farm in Adamawa. I saw that it was doing very well in banana production. When I approached the owner of the farm, a young man(civil servant) doing it as a side hustle, he explained to me that what I saw as an impressive outcome was a shadow of what he has been obtaining in the past when he was using poultry waste to fertilise the farm.”

 

Cost-effective organic alternative

He had to use mineral chemical fertiliser because other farmers had cornered the source of poultry waste supply. He couldn’t get enough yields like when he was using poultry waste.

He said farmers choose manure as a cost-effective organic alternative.

Given the rising costs of chemical fertiliser, the abundance of cattle manure and poultry litter, and the environmental benefits of using animal waste, farmers use animal byproducts as fertiliser for local crop production.

Among the common organic fertiliser used by farmers include Alfalfa, Cottonseed, Rock Phosphate, Cow manure, Chicken manure, Earthworm castings and Compost. AdeOluwa and Professor Gideon Adeoye of the Department of Agronomy, University of Ibadan have found oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB) as an alternative and cheaper organic fertiliser in oil palm farms.

In Malawi, farmers facing  high costs of fertilising maize and other crops amid shifting weather patterns are resorting  to the use ‘Bionitrate’ made from urine . Farmers are using human urine on their crops instead of costly imported chemical fertiliser. It’s the result of an innovative local initiative that is transforming the lives of both the farmers and city residents.

Farmers say the fertiliser is cheaper and more environmentally-friendly than chemicals.

A report said farmers at Neno district in Southern Malawi were happy with the impact of the ‘magic liquid’ on their crops, especially as the fertiliser comes from a free, readily available and renewable source. The subsistence farmers and their families collect the urine they pass and store it in containers where it matures and turns into fertiliser. Despite the raised unhygienic concerns, a report said several farmers applying Bionitrate fertiliser on their crops had found it effective.

Going against this in its report, American Chemical Societynoted that while Urine is a goldmine of useful substances that can be captured and converted into products such as fertiliser, however, going “green” with urine carries some potential risks. For instance, DNA released from antibiotic-resistant bacteria in urine could transfer resistance to other organisms at the site where the fertiliser is used. Now, research published in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T) journal shows this risk is likely to be minimal.

The Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont operates the only contemporary community-scale system in the U.S. for capturing urine and processing it into fertiliser, according to the authors of the ES&T study.

 

Biggest cause of crop failure

While farmers face many challenges, the biggest cause of crop failure is low rainfall and nutrients. With the ever-rising cost of chemical fertiliser, subsistence farmers have been finding it hard to afford chemical fertiliser, and they have been trying to find affordable and sustainable alternatives.

Analysts said the sector dependence on chemical fertiliser and pesticides have encouraged the thriving of industries that are producing life-threatening chemicals which are not only hazardous for human consumption but can also disturb the ecological balance.

They urged farmers to shifting from producing food grown with chemical fertiliser to food grown with organic fertiliser because of the harmful effects that these foods have in the body when consumed. Whether it is organic or artificial, fertiliser is an essential ingredient for European farmers to increase production, but its use is proving costly and a headache for many.

The Executive Secretary, Fertiliser Producers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN), Gideon Negedu, said chemical fertiliser are important for the cost-effective production of commercial crops. With a growing population and high cost of living, he said mineral fertiliser ensures enough food is available for everyone at affordable prices.

Negedu said there was nothing wrong with using mineral fertiliser once the farmers are taught on effective targeted application of small quantities in a field.

According to him, organic and inorganic fertiliser provides plants with the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong.

With increasing population, he explained that Nigeria needs effective policies, new farming methods, improved input and high-yield seed varieties to improve harvests and reduced poverty.

As Nigeria faces declining soil fertility resulting from degraded soils and other factors, often blamed for the drop in crop yields, Negedu stressed that there was the need to encourage smallholder farmers to use fertiliser. Fertiliser use, according to him, supports soil quality and also helps mitigate the effects of soil erosion and nutrient depletion.

 

Inadequate supply affecting industrial agric

Despite the benefits of organic fertiliser, the FEPSAN Executive Secretary, said the supply was not enough to support large scale industrial agriculture. As such Nigeria still needs more mineral fertiliser plants to boost farm yields and putting big smiles on farmers’ faces.

One key to reducing food production costs and increasing food supply, he maintained, was locally produced fertiliser.

What FEPSAN is seeking to achieve is ensuring  availability of fertiliser at affordable prices, adding that it  not only help farmers see higher yields with improvement in incomes, but also  bring other benefits.

With over 33 blending plants involved in the production of NPK’ (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium) fertiliser  in Nigeria, stakeholders are wondering why the input is still out of farmers’ reach in many parts of the country.

Negedu refuted the claim of inadequate raw materials in the country to blend the required quantity of NPK 20:10:10, but rather attributed the problem to logistics in moving the raw materials to the blending plants.

He said: “There are enough raw materials on ground, but we have to be able to move these materials to the blending plants.

“One of the major issues surrounding fertiliser supply in the country has been the gap in its prices in different parts of the country.’’

Meanwhile, to further promote fertiliser consumption, the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) has decided to join forces to support the economic scheme of the West African Fertiliser Association (WAFA).

WAFA mandated EBID to mobilise the financial resources. The fundraising concerns a total amount of $520million, of which $430 million is for fertiliser imports and $90 million for investments.

The ECOWAS Commission, through its Department for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, sensitises, and encourages WAFA members to speed up the preparation and submission of relevant and bankable projects to EBID for funding. Furthermore, it has undertaken strong advocacy with the states that was coronated on December 10, 2020 with the virtual meeting of the ministers of agriculture of the 15 member states, with the participation of EBID and that of WAFA officials and members. The planned economic scheme is to cover both bulk importation of fertiliser and the establishment in the countries by local shareholders of private fertiliser blending units.

To spearhead diversification of Nigeria’s economy with special focus on non-oil export, the National Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has been encouraging farmers to embrace organic agriculture.

At the training on the National Programme on Organic Food Export and Certification last year in Akwanga Local Government Area, Nasarawa State, the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo, said: “The value of organic food demand has risen significantly due to global awareness on the essence of food safety concern and focus on organically produced crops. Statistically, the global demand for organic foods rose from $15.2 billion in 1999 to $97billion in 2017.”

He noted that the action plan under the World Food Summit identified the importance of organic input technologies, farming techniques and other sustained methods as organic farming.

Organic food was first introduced on a large-scale in the early 1990s. It took over 15 years for global organic product sales to reach $50 billion in 2008. Ten years (2018) later, they surpassed the $100 billion mark.

Awolowo said organic foods are produced and processed in a certified farmland or facilities with the overall health benefit to include improvements of immune system, avoidance of food contaminants, reduction in the chances of developing food-borne diseases and general well-being.

Source: thenationonlineng.net