In Africa, producing food from waste
Farmers in southern Africa use composted food scraps, human waste, and livestock manure for many purposes, from enriching soil to feeding fish.
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Most livestock waste in the urban slums of Kisumu in western Kenya goes unused and accumulates in the city. The dung poses a health hazard, entering the city’s water supply when it rains. Some residents have been using the dung as a mosquito repellent, and more recently the pastoralist tradition of using dung as fuel is catching on in the city. Combined with other ingredients to form a briquette, the dung is being recycled into cooking fuel that lasts longer, and burns cleaner, than alternatives like charcoal.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Dairy Farm
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Making and selling the briquettes has turned into an income source for some farmers. An alternative to briquettes, a biogas digester invented in the country, transforms cow dung and weeds such as water hyacinth into fuel and fertilizer with the help of microorganisms.
Manure and agricultural waste is also being used as fish food. Christopher Mwita of the Tarime District in Tanzania established an “integrated fish management” system in 2005 that produces fish from farm waste and fertilizer from fish waste by integrating the production of catfish and tilapia with poultry, maize, rabbit, and vegetable production. Chickens walk on stalks that enable nitrogen-rich droppings to fall directly into the fish pond, the enriched water is used to irrigate crops, and the crops feed livestock.
African catfish and tilapia, popular species in aquaculture systems around the world for their hardiness, are native to African lakes. In Zambia, a pig farm is also the country’s largest fish farm, using waste generated by the pig operation to feed fish.
• Kim Kido is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.
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