Indigenous Biofertilizers for Sustainable Development




Fertilizers prices increase and availability to rural communities in developing countries is a challenge to increasing food production. This project is generating the economic, social and biophysical knowledge base for the development of indigenous fertilizers that provide local business opportunities, are as or more effective and less expensive than imported fertilizers. Resource mapping identifies local food and processing wastes that are rich in nutrients. Innovative yet simple technology based on thermochemical and enzymatic conversion is utilized and acceptance by farmers tested. 


Low fertilizer use in many countries has various issues, including high prices and low availability to rural communities. Fertilizer prices are tenfold higher in landlocked countries in Sub-Saharan Africa than in the US. This project develops fertilizers that can be made locally, at scales from individual households to industrial applications. This could significantly contribute to local fertilizer supply and increase food production.


Resources are being mapped to evaluate the magnitude of nutrients in agricultural wastes available in Ethiopia. Preliminary results indicate that phosphorus in annually slaughtered animals in Ethiopia could, if recycled as biofertilizers, contribute in the amount of half of the currently important phosphorus. Concurrent laboratory, greenhouse and field trials indicate that manufactured bone chars have similar phosphorus use efficiency as commercial imported fertilizers. 


In our project in Ethiopia, farmers are starting to take note of the extent to which commercial imported  fertilizers can be substituted by indigenous biofertilizers. Development agencies begin to demonstrate interest in evaluating the adoption of the technology by businesses and farmers.

Submitted by: 

  • Solomon, Dawit

Researchers involved: 

  • Lehmann, Johannes
  • Blalock, Garrick
  • Solomon, Dawit

Organizations involved: 

  • Jimma University
  • CARE Ethiopia