Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Safi Organics

Cassava and rice husks: from farm waste to fertiliser

Agriculture & Energy

One startup ensures farmers have access to green, affordable fertilisers

Spotted: Most fertilisers are produced in large-scale, centralised facilities and are then imported to rural areas. However, because rural farmers in emerging economies in Africa and the Indian sub-continent are often far away from ports and fertiliser producers, they tend to pay more than the rest of the world for fertilisers, contributing to the cycle of poverty.  

To fix this, startup Safi Organics produces organic fertilisers made with local agricultural waste products such as cassava peels and rice husks. Passionate about regenerating degraded African soils, the company’s founders were inspired to develop a sustainable, locally driven solution after witnessing the hardships faced by smallholder farmers due to costly and ineffective fertilisers.

Safi Organics buys waste materials from farmers and mills nationwide to create a range of custom fertilisers, including those for planting, topping, and an acidic mix specially designed for tea plantations.  

First, rice husks and other forms of agri-waste are burnt in a kiln, which was developed using MIT technology. This residue, which is rich in potassium acts as a fertiliser base. The team then adds a special liquid nutrient mix, developed in Kenya, that is made from local ingredients and imported algae. Each mix is custom-made for specific applications, and supplies phosphate, nitrogen, and other beneficial micronutrients. 

Unlike large-scale producers and slow composting projects, Safi offers swift, cost-efficient thermochemical processing, reducing the logistical burdens on farmers. Through its circular initiative, Safi Organics has already repurposed 60,000 tonnes of waste into organic fertiliser and helped over 10,000 farmers access effective and natural soil additives. 

Springwise has spotted many other innovations utilising agricultural waste to produce sustainable alternatives. For example, cocoa waste can be transformed into food and drink ingredients, and wine waste can be used to make health boosters.

Written By: Anam Alam



Download PDF