Appropriate technology: industrial fertiliser or cow poo?

Hard to believe, but such is the faith in chemical fertilisers that it came as a complete revelation to farmers in Tanzania’s Dodoma region that you can fertilise your fields with animal manure.

Agro-pastoralist farmer Gilbert Masiga explained: “The project has changed me. In the past I was not using farmyard manure in my farm but now it is a great resource. GilbertCombined with Good Agriculture Practices I am now getting enough food for my family and surplus for sale. I advise other livestock keepers to preserve livestock feed for use during the dry season and use farmyard manure to increase crop yield.”

But you can see why the G8 New Alliance of powerful governments and corporations is pushing the industrial agriculture approach into Africa. There’s just no corporate profit or export revenues to be made from African farmers collecting farmyard manure and spreading it on their fields, or planting nitrogen-fixing beans between rows of maize. It obviously makes more economic sense to pump non-renewable fossil fuel from beneath the ocean floor, convert it to chemical fertilizer, ship it halfway round the world, generating corporate profits and greenhouse gas emissions at every step, and then sell it for more than a dollar a kg to farmers earning less than a dollar a day.