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Cow dung as natural fertilizer in Chad

Objective: 
Impacts addressed: 
Organisation: 
Environment and Development Action in the Third World
Body: 

 

Local name of practice: Sonogvé Avilé (fields behind the house)

Country/region/village: Chad/Mayo Kibbi/Fianga 

Community: Toupuri

Context

Fianga is a sub-prefecture in the constituency of Mount Illi in the region of Mayo Kebi East, with a total population of more than 42,000 inhabitants. It is suffering from land degradation and soil fertility losses due to factors such as wind erosion, as well as climate change leading to increased bush fires and depletion of the local biodiversity, utimately affecting crop yields.  

Description

To control land degradation, farmers have developed a technique of soil fertilization on all degraded farmlands. This endogenous soil fertilization technique consists of spreading the dung of cows, or organic fertilizers stored in heaps in the fields, prior to the rainy season. The technology is applied at community level in the Fianga community and several villages in the area of Mount Illi, and was developed by the communities' ancestors and transmitted from fathers to sons. The technique is used on degraded farmlands to boost productivity in the next rainy season. Its implementation requires access to a crop plot, spreading material, organic fertilizers from animals or agricultural residues, and agricultural equipment. 

Before using this technology, it is necessary to have either an exploitable ground and animals to provide the dung, or the ability to access such after having cleared the ground. Once dung is gathered it is placed in piles while waiting for the onset of the rain to spread them, and for the farmer to plow with an ox plow. Cow dung is a very effective natural fertilizer. As for the realization of all the animal manures, the packed cow dung is mixed with straw. The composting process is identical to that of green waste through a sufficiently ventilated packing system. Seeds are prepared and sown with the first rain. For example millet is sown (two grains per hole) at first weeding, and later harvested. The necessary equipment is a hoe, machete, cart, oxen, and baskets for harvesting. Women do not have access to land but can borrow or rent land for their farming activities. 

Organic fertilizers are gathered in heaps for a period of time to reinforce the decomposition process and are then scattered in the fields on the eve of the rainy season. This process generates organic fertilizer that enhances soil fertility and increases crop  yields and quality.

For 1 ha we can estimate expenses (West African CFA Franc):

  • Land Rent: 20,000
  • Sowing: 10,000
  • Cow dung: 24,000
  • Labor: 15000
  • Weeding: 30,000
  • Material (hoe, machete): 9,800
  • Seed: 6000
  • Total: 114,800 (USD 230)

Profitability:

  • 11 GM bags at 25,000 FCFA per unit or 275,000 FCFA
  • 26 GM bags at 27000 FCFA per unit or 702 000 FCFA
  • Total: 977,000 FCFA
  • 977,000- 115,800 = 861,200 FCFA (USD 1720)

Benefits of technology

The technology contributes to disaster risk reduction because it allows better water control on farms with reduced risk of flooding and loss of crop. Control of water is due to the fact that cow dung has the property of water retention and keep moisture for a long time, likewise, their parking in the ground slows the rate of rainwater runoff, this is what limits the risk of flooding. The technology also contributes to the protection of the ecosystem and biodiversity, as it allows the return of extinct animals. Other benefits relate to:  

  • Increased crop yield, food production and food security
  • Strenghened economic opportunities allowing for better access to healthcare and education
  • Strengthening of biodiversity and improvement of value of cow dung
  • Means for diversification of activities
  • Means for access to medical care

The direct beneficiaries of the practice are: households who benefit from the earnings from the harvest to meet food, health and education needs etc.
The indirect beneficiaries of the practice are: the consumers, the traders who buy the products and resell them after storage, the other actors who are in the processing chain and the workers during the harvests

Gender considerations

The users of this technology are of all kinds (men, women, young). Women are not at risk using this technology but they are limited by access to land. Among the Toupouri community, the land is not considered a merchant property, but is managed according to family and parental structures, customs in matters of marriage and religion. As a general rule, men control the land and women only have access through their male parents or partners. The profits are however for the benefit of the whole family. 

Potential for technology transfer and up-scaling

Fertilization of land depleted by previous harvests often requires good availability of dung or agricultural residues and tools suitable for spreading. Technical (equipment for deploying and spreading cow dung, access to cow dung, having cows at your disposal) and financial capacities are often lacking in very poor households. Technology transfer is possible although some adaptations in terms of livestock availability for dung production and appropriate application techniques, are necessary. Technology requires rain and a suitable soil type. The technique of land fertilization can be implemented on a large scale in several villages of the region of Mount Illi and at the departmental level of Mount Illi in areas with the same eco-geographical characteristics, that is to say a cultivation area with cultivated and farmland. This technology is easey to implement and transfer. Capacities which would need to be acquired and transferred, as well as pre-conditions to consider are for example:

  • Knowledge of cropping techniques and how to choose a farmland
  • Ability to carry dung to the farmland
  • Knowing when dung should be used
  • Posession of livestock 
  • Tools for sustainable crop planning allowing for choices such as choosing between growing red versus white millet

Reference

Djekore M. 2016. Mission de recueil des meilleures pratiques en matière de gestion durable des terres en vue de leur diffusion, CILSS,  126 p

Dramé A. Kiema A. 2016. Connaissances endogènes : les bonnes pratiques d’atténuation et d’adaptation aux changements climatiques en Afrique de l’Ouest, Enda Energie, 94 p