On Wednesday, May 25, 2022, the Agriculture Minister spoke about the high cost of inorganic fertilisers vis-a-vis the government’s constrained purse.
He said the ministry was considering organic compost as alternate, stressing financial potential: Organic products have significant market advantage over inorganic ones and enjoy better patronage in Europe.
Organic composting is a welcoming idea since a lot of food exported from Ghana fail to meet safety standards of Europe due to too much concentration of chemicals.
In rolling out such ideas, governments usually rely on research institutions and industry. Logically, the minister mentioned Zoomlion, which is running a compost plant in the Greater-Accra Region.
Other regions have also initiated the concept, so it is appropriate that the ministry would adapt current practices to solve emerging problems. A media person sought the reaction of a compost expert from Zoomlion.
In a typical Ghanaian fashion, the expert readily enumerated the challenging factors of the plan. He mentioned that composting was capital intensive, and it was not feasible to get the amount of biodegradable waste required for such high amounts of compost.
He concluded that the government must find means to keep importing inorganic fertiliser. Indeed, the minister had only implied a reduction in patronage.
A more enthusiastic expert would have perceived immediately the numerous benefits that his company stood to gain from the idea, the basic being increased production, which would entrench his own employment and position.
Zoomlion would engage more hands to staff the regional branches that would necessarily emerge to feed the grassroots, thus, reducing unemployment. Demand for compost would rise, and higher sales might translate into better remuneration.
Additionally, a national organic compost programme would promote safe and effective waste management. Research has revealed that 60 to 65 per cent of waste generated in Ghana is biodegradable, some placing it at 70 per cent.
To wit, with innovative and effective mobilisation skills, all could ensure a sustainable, frugal supply of waste materials throughout the year. Best of all, such a plan would reduce by the same amount the mountains of waste besieging our communities.
The primary step in plan implementation would be a national orientation in layered waste segregation to aid systematic composting.
Inevitably, knowledge in composting would spill over to vermicomposting, sensitising children and youth to different faces of agriculture.
Organic composting would promote best gardening practices, nurture topsoil to yield healthy food products for gardeners, possibly increasing knowledge and interest in agriculture.
South Africa, Australia, UK, Europe and the US have developed excelling organic waste management industries, which yield tons of top-notch compost for domestic and export purposes.
Established entities might collaborate to transform the agricultural and biodegradable waste sectors into sustainable manufacturing and income sources while enhancing food safety. Government could also invite such entities to establish in Ghana to boost local efforts.
The landfills across the country do not constitute just an eyesore but also degrade the environment. US Environmental Protection Agency affirmed in 2021 that landfills and other sources emit methane, a greenhouse gas which accounts for about 20 per cent of global emissions, trailing carbon dioxide.
Complacent Ghanaians claim that waste generation in the country is not significant enough to contribute to global warming.
Yet, China and Nigeria are among the eight countries responsible for all anthropogenic methane emissions.
Considering the flooding of Chinese manufacturing, operations of Nigerian entrepreneurs, and proliferating landfills in Ghana, methane recovery is a necessity.
A collaboration with foreign organic waste entities would likely include technologies for methane recovery for profitable energy utility.
Again, such a move would imply the creation of new job lines to reduce unemployment. Ironically, there is an existing skill for methane recovery and utilisation, but neither research institutions nor industry is harnessing such skills, wasting potential human resources. A compost programme could reverse the unacceptable situation.
A laudable idea, already yielding multiple benefits in other communities, has been conceived by the ministry.
Collaboration from research institutions and industry would not only bloom the idea but also broaden the bases enough for grass-roots participation.
It is time experts applied acquired knowledge to solve community, national and global problems.
Could they fulfil expectations?