Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Moving waste material to the compost production unit.

I look back this week to my days training at the Songhai Centre in Porto Novo, Republic of Benin. And as I do this, I cannot but look back at how what a lot of materials from agricultural production are reused or recycled.  I would also highlight some practical ways that I have come about in my studies as a Young Professional in Agricultural Research for Development.

1.       Animal Dung and poultry droppings: These two wastes both from animals such as pigs and cattle and droppings from layers or broilers are very useful in the production of biogas. In third world countries like Nigeria where I come from, the cost of power (electricity) is high and irregularity in supply. Thus Biogas is a very good means of generating power. Biogas can be used for cooking and even electricity generation.

2.       Bark of ginger – I found this very thrilling when I first came across it. I was working in the agro processing section. Each time we were to produce ginger juice; we had to peel the gingers. But we didn’t just throw away the bark, we grinded it into powder and used as seasoning in the meat and fish processing unit where it is used in grilling. This results in a very sweet taste and aroma when you eat. Individuals in food processing can take a clue from this.

3.       Water Hyacinths: even though this is seen as a harmful plant or sea weed, it has it usefulness when used. Water hyacinths can be used to detoxify water bodies in enclosed areas. More specifically I recall chopping large quantity of water hyacinth for biogas production. It is mixed with the droppings and dung in biogas production.

4.       Cocoa Shells:  once the beans have been shelled. The empty shell can be dried in the sun or drying machines and then ground in a mill to a powder. This can then in turn be fed to livestock. This shell contains theobromine, fat, vitamin D and has a better nutritional output. Research shows that the cocoa shell flour may be served as a substitute to maize to feed poultry, cattle and pigs up to 35% of their ration. The milled shell can also be used as crop fertilizer.

5.       Feed residues from Grass cutter rearing; when grass cutters eat they usually leave behind bits from their feed especially when given guinea grass. This residue is used in Maggot production for fish farming. This residue is mixed with waste from the abattoir and used to serve as an attractant for houseflies which in turn lay eggs to form maggots after 72hours.

By and large, it is clear how if we look critically into agriculture we discover that the so called waste can be reused to do so many practical things that would not only help reduce waste but also increase productivity and cut down cost.

This blog post is a contribution to the GO GREEN AND STAY COOL Initiative.
Like our Page -
On Twitter -@gogreenstaycool

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

FAO, IFAD sign agreement to promote smallholder financing

Ms Eugenia Serova, Director FAO Rural Infrastructure and Agro-Industries Division, with Adolfo Brizzi, Director of IFAD's Policy and Technical Advisory Division.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on the 11th of February 2013 have signed an $875 000 agreement aimed at helping small farmers and rural households in developing countries gain improved access to agricultural and rural finance, thereby enabling their investments.

The three-year grant agreement is intended to generate new policy tools and training materials for public-sector agencies, donors, financial institutions and NGOs working to enhance smallholder access to financial services including credit, savings and insurance.

The knowledge gained will be disseminated world-wide through the Rural Finance Learning Center (RFLC), a jointly supported web platform managed by FAO which has been operating since 2004.

The grant agreement was inaugurated here last Friday during the annual meeting of the Improving Capacity Building in Rural Finance  (CABFIN) partnership, which groups the German International Cooperation Agency GIZ, the World Bank, the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) as well as FAO and IFAD. The grant will support CABFIN's work plan for 2013-15. 

"Many development agencies said finance for agriculture was too risky and difficult. The CABFIN Partners believed otherwise and 10 years ago initiated a plan to jointly address learning on polices, products and models by sharing information on how it can be done, by creating the RFLC information gateway and by jointly developing technical guidance documents and working together on strategic initiatives in the sector. The continued and growing commitment of the partners is testament to the global success and impact from the collaboration," said FAO Senior Agribusiness and Finance Officer Calvin Miller.

"This  is a real model of coordination, cooperation, and harmonization in the field of rural finance and agricultural investment. It not only promotes sharing information among local public and private partners, it supports an environment of knowledge sharing and dialogue across regions," said Michael Hamp, IFAD Senior Technical Adviser, Rural Finance.

Rural Finance Learning Centre.

The RFLC is a key component of the CABFIN partnership. It ensures lessons and advice collected from around the world is broadly disseminated among the relevant stakeholders promoting access to agricultural and rural finance. It currently offers more than 3,000 selected and abstracted documents that governments, financial institutions and other organizations can use to design improved financial services, strategies and innovations to serve rural communities.

The RFLC is also the largest source of training courses and capacity building resources on the topic. The online centre serves visitors in three languages, who come from an average of 130 countries each month.

Smallholder agriculture and related businesses currently suffer from under-investment. The objective of the CABFIN partnership is to turn the situation around by enabling local institutions to learn, from others, how to offer improved, specifically-tailored financial products and risk management strategies that make such investments more attractive, including investments by rural households themselves. CABFIN also offers policy tools and advice to governments and public stakeholders.

Smallholder finance

Credit schemes designed for smallholders must, for example, take account of the agricultural cycle and provide flexible repayment plans that fit in with the cash flow of small farmers, who have little income between the planting and harvest seasons.

As an example of CABFIN initiatives, the Rabobank Group collaborates with FAO and other CABFIN members to share its experiences working with producer organizations in sub-Saharan Africa, in order to jointly develop this appropriate agricultural credit product as well as complementary products such as insurance, savings and local institutional development.

FAO has been acting as a facilitator in bringing stakeholders together, drawing and sharing lessons from such experiences.

According to FAO's flagship publication, The State of Food and Agriculture 2012, "only by catalyzing investments by farmers and directing public investment appropriately can we achieve a world in which everyone is well nourished and natural resources are used sustainably."



Applying RCW on a seedbed

One of the key methods of going green is to reuse things around us. This week I write about an innovative method of reusing wood. This I learnt during my training at the Songhai Centre Port- Novo, Benin Republic. You can read about my Songhai Experience here. This very interesting method is referred to as Ramial Chip Wood Application (RCW).

Ramial chip woods are gotten from the crushing of stems, branches and leaves that are non- acidic for fertilization of the soil. The application of chipped wood is done to replicate the effect of natural falling leaves from a tree to the soil and the effect it has after decomposition. Non-acidic wood is said to be used here majorly and decomposition start at about 7 to 8 months. It should be noted that one could have 80% - 20% ratio of non- acidic to acidic wood.

Ramial chipped wood is considered the number one means of fertilizing the soil. There is also a secretion of various antibiotics from bacteria in the chip wood. This helps to protect crop from certain attacks.

Ramial chipped wood is not immediately functional. Thus it is good to mix the use of both RCW and compose. It actually takes 2-3 yrs to start fertilizing the soil. The interesting thing however is that research work shows that such soil fertilized by RCW remains same for another five (5) years.

·         Maintains soil humidity
·         Contributes to destroying weeds
·         Fertilization of the soil
·         Long time preservation of soil nutrients
·         Protection of crop from certain attacks.
·         A good material for mulching

It is however important to note that RCW result in carrying out deforestation especially when entire trees are cut down. Thus it is emphasis to replant after cutting down old tress.

This Blog is a contibution to the GO GREEN STAY COOL INITIATIVE. Join us on twitter @gogreenstaycool and on Facebook