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Submitted by Tony Cisse on
Whilst a discussion on the price of fertilizer is very valid the point of the production and use of organic compost is not discussed. Yet this is not an unknown technology and more important for farmers with little access to cerdit it is free and proven to increase soil fertility and crop yeilds. A study in the Journal of Biological agriculture & horticulture vol. 19, no3 clearly demonstrates the benefits of compost, in combination with fertilizers (to make a little go a long way) or on its own, with regards to millet production: "Increasing rural populations and the associated agricultural intensification and reduction in fallow periods of cropping systems in Senegal may be degrading soils. This may be related to the per capita decrease in food production of the semi-arid Sub-Sahel region. This study investigated the effect of applying combinations of manure/crop residue compost (2 t ha-1) and mineral fertilizer on yields of millet in the semi-arid agroecological zone of Senegal...Partial budget analysis indicated that net profits from compost + mineral fertilizer (US$68) was higher than mineral fertilizer (US$53), indicative of a synergistic effect. However, a net return from the use of compost alone was US$43. Thus, in the absence of mineral fertilizers or rock phosphate, farmers could achieve reasonable yields and income with continuous use of compost alone". Maybe the focus of debate, as a matter of priority in increasing soil fertility, is how composting can be increased.