A waste-value systems solutions creating organic fertilisers. (Courtesy photo)
Aloysious Kasoma
Journalist @New Vision

Approximately ten thousand women and youths are set to benefit from the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment, a six-year program, co-funded by the Netherlands government, worth about EUR2.89m (over Sh11.2b). 

The fund will be managed by a consortium of partners, including Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), Marula Agribusiness B.V., Palladium and Randstad, to identify scalable innovative youth employment solutions with projects to enable 200,000 young people to access new or better employment opportunities. 

The project is currently concluding the second call for applications in Uganda in the selected implementing partners with plans to invest and create over 11,000 jobs. 

According to Tommie Hooft van Huijsduijnen, the CEO Marula, a local partner organisation, the CFYE partnership started in 2019 and it is hinged on matching supply and demand interventions in the areas of agriculture and poultry by creating jobs, alternative fertilisers and landfill options. 

He said the company has already launched an out-grower scheme, which currently helps 1202 Ugandan youths in Kayunga to produce their own BSF larvae and fertiliser for crop and poultry production 

“The youth earn an extra income from selling back larvae to Proteen, whilst the fertilizer they produce is a rich in nutrients and acts as a buffer against expensive synthetic varieties,” he said. 

The fund has an estimated portfolio of 10 projects worth over EUR5.85m (sh20b) and plans to create and match over 25,000 jobs for women and youth, through its implementing partners. 

He said currently, the youths are being empowered to produce organic fertilisers as a scalable business solution to unemployment and green energy conservation. 

“Organic fertilisers are made by harvesting maggots from the Black Soldier Fly (BSF), which lays eggs on decomposed materials. The eggs later hatch into larvae, which are harvested and spread in the garden to aide soil aeration,” he said. 

He said the youths can earn an extra income from selling back larvae to Proteen, whilst the fertilizer they produce is rich in nutrients and can be used as a buffer against expensive synthetic varieties. 

He said his organisation is currently focused on making the youths appreciate the value of the environment by creating value out of it. 

“First of all, taking advantage of garbage would clean up cities, as 80% of the waste that ends up on landfills (or illegal dumping sites) is organic. All of this waste and methane production would be mitigated as we feed it to BSF. 40% of East Africa's arable land is situated in Uganda but Uganda needs to significantly increase its yield per acre, using organic fertilisers,” he explained. 

He added that organic fertilisers have been proven on Robusta coffee, being able to maximize yields compared to synthetic fertilizers or manure application. 

“Uganda's agriculture production would significantly increase if it were to adopt BSF fertilizer. Climate change will create erratic rainfall and increase average temperatures. Both of these issues can be mitigated with healthy soils. soil with high organic matter have a much higher water retention rate, meaning that in periods of drought, the farmer is safe,” he said. 

Of late, the conflict in Ukraine has led to an increase in fertiliser prices in Uganda and neighboring countries like Kenya. Amidst the shortages, some farmers are slowly shifting to a more sustainable way of enriching their soils using fertilizers from the Black Soldier Fly adopted by over 1,000 subsistence farmers. 

Statistics indicate that Uganda Imports approximately 100,000 tons of chemical fertilisers annually at $32.47m, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.

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