Innovation That Matters

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Combatting desertification with maggot-based fertiliser

Agriculture & Energy

A fertiliser made using black soldier fly larvae is helping to revive the Sahel desert

Spotted: The Sahel region of Africa is going to be hit hard by climate-change-induced desertification and associated growth in poverty, but the region is fighting back. In 2007, the African Union proposed the Great Green Wall initiative to revive green and productive landscapes across Africa. The initiative aims to restore a strip of the Sahel measuring 8,000 kilometres long and covering 100 million hectares.

The Green Wall initiative is also helping fund projects that can help restore land for agricultural productivity. One such project is Benin-based Agro-Eco Services, which produces and markets an organic fertiliser made from maggots. The Maggot Compost is based on black soldier fly larvae and is enriched with biochar.

The soldier fly larvae are grown using recovered organic waste, such as animal waste. They are then processed to produce chitosan, a polysaccharide made by treating the insects with an alkaline substance. The final product is a highly effective organic fertiliser and natural pesticide that speeds up crop growth and helps soil retain water.

Agro-Eco is benefiting from acceleration with an incubator run by nonprofit 2iE International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering, and funded by the German development agency GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH). The funding will be used to increase monthly production from 10 tonnes of compost to 100 tonnes and to move from manual production to industrial and international production.

The acceleration of climate change has given new impetus to the drive to reverse desertification around the globe. Other land restoration projects that Springwise has spotted include desert soilisation technology that is transforming deserts into farmland in China and a startup working to turn Moroccan desert into agricultural land.

Written By: Lisa Magloff




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