Africa only accounts for 5% of global fertilizer consumption and favors the use of mineral fertilizers such as nitrogen or phosphate. Between 2008 and 2015, usage volumes increased by 130% according to the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). Beninese Gildas Zodome , from Allada, wanted to help remedy the problem by founding the company Bio Phyto Collines .
His initiative is more than welcome in Africa, where the use of chemicals in agriculture is increasingly questioned. In question: their high cost, the difficulty of supply for rural areas, their poor fertilizing quality, their responsibility for the presence of endocrine factors but above all their harmful effects on the health of consumers and farmers. The latter often handle these products without protective equipment and expose themselves to skin problems and respiratory problems.
Who is Gildas Zodome?
Gildas is a 33-year-old doctoral student at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Cotonou (UAC), also a former local representative in Glazoué (center-south) of several public institutions supporting the agricultural sector, including the Regional Center for agricultural promotion of Benin (Cerpa) and the National Institute of Agricultural Research of Benin (Inrab).
His initiative comes mainly from an awareness of the pathologies that affect farmers following the use of fertilizers and approved fertilizers: “Diarrhea, fainting, intoxication. The phenomenon is well known, ”he explains.
What products does it offer?
The new organic products that he offers and on which he is working with his nine employees are designed from a mixture of aromatic plants (eucalyptus, neem seeds – also called neem – orange tree, hyptis, etc.) and it took two years to get to the first samples.
Cheaper and healthier, these organic fertilizers represent a good deal for farmers: the 50 kg bag costs 10,000 CFA francs (around 15 euros). “Chemical fertilizers are more at 17,000 CFA francs a bag in Benin, or even 12,000 if they are subsidized,” explains Gildas.
And the use of these products is bearing fruit: “On a hectare of rice cultivation, we measured an average production of 4 tonnes of rice with our products, against 3 tonnes with chemical inputs, and an additional economic margin of 50,000 francs. CFA. He adds.
Gildas’ project holds promise for both consumers and African farmers, and he hopes to be able to increase production fivefold within three years.