Ghana turns sugarcane farming waste into organic fertilizer | Global Ideas | DW | 12.11.2021

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Global Ideas

Ghana turns sugarcane farming waste into organic fertilizer

An initiative in Ghana's Volta region is showing farmers how to turn their sugarcane waste into an organic fertilizer that's beneficial for depleted soil.

Watch video 06:36

Sustainable sugarcane production in Ghana

In Ghana, sugarcane was once big business. But around 40 years ago, the industry started to decline, and today, all the country's large factories are closed.

But that major downturn didn't stop Audrey S-Darko from wanting to know more.  Together with other students, she founded the Sabon Sake project and got in touch with small farmers who mainly grow sugarcane. Using biotechnology in her university's laboratory, the young Ghanians developed a bio-compost fertilizer from sugarcane waste that could ensure better soil quality.

Ghanian entrepreneur Audrey S-Darko

Ghanian entrepreneur Audrey S-Darko

Most of the farmers in the region still use a lot of chemical fertilizers and burn their crop waste in the fields after the harvest, which severely damages the soil. Audrey S-Darko is showing them how to use the new fertilizer to increase crop yields.

Currently, S-Darko is the group's only full-time employee. In the Volta region in the southeast of the country, she has set up a small production facility to make the organic fertilizer. She has also started an organic farm and brought together a network of 30 sugarcane farmers who have committed to using sustainable cultivation methods. 

Looking further afield, the group wants to scale-up the project to also help vertical and urban farmers by supplying them with fertilizer. As more people grow their own vegetables at home, it is a large untapped market with huge potential for the tiny initiative. 

A film by Anja Kimmig and Richard Ocloo

Sugarcane being collected and processed

Sugarcane being collected and processed into fertilizer in Ghana's Volta region

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