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Returning organic waste back to soils in form of compost in Tanzania

Collecting waste from fruit and vegetable markets in Tanzania and converting it into rich compost which can be returned back to soils.

Photo of Hana Gajdosova
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Currently there is no organic waste management strategy in Tanzania. In rural parts, waste is simply thrown away or burned in a pit.  In vegetable markets in towns, produce unfit for sale are simply dumped on site and left to rot. This poses a health hazard for people, attracts rats and creates undesirable odor. The lack of any management not only creates tons of waste everyday, but it also deprives Tanzanian soils of rich nutrients which can help farmers to increase their yields.

My idea is to bring collection containers to the market places. Market sellers will be encouraged to dispose of their waste inside the containers. Once the container is filled, it will be transported to a site, where it will be processed into compost. 

We plan to execute this program along the Iringa-Mbeya highway starting with the town of Mafinga where we currently reside. After success in the Southern Highlands, this could be replicated easily across the country.

We have a 200 acre farm in Iringa which can partially be converted into the composting site. The waste will be mixed with other organic materials such as straw and soil. The mixture will be turned around and watered manually to kick in the decomposing process. Once well aged, this 'black gold' will be packaged into 50kg bags and sold back to the farmers in the region.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I would like to run the pilot project in my local town of Mafinga. I will introduce a simple collection container which sellers will use for dumping their waste. I have already informed local authorities, which are very supportive of this project. Once the container is full, it will be transported to a designated site where it will be mixed with other organic materials to start the composting process. The final product in form of well aged compost will be sold back to farms in the region.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

I would love to reach out to businesses who run similar projects in other parts of the world. I am sure the community can provide me with invaluable insight into challenges I have not foreseen and strategies I can apply. Also, we will require your support in producing educational material for promoting recycling of organic waste.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a production manager at Masifio Estates, a vegetable farm in Southern Highlands in Tanzania. I have experience working with local farmers and growing wide array of produce. I have good understanding of local soils and I have personally seen the difference it makes when soils are enriched by organic compost - the vegetables thrive because of additional nutrients, soils become more structured because of organic matter,yields are higher and farmers bring more money back home.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

How far along is your idea?

  • It was in the works before this challenge – it’s existed for 2-6 months


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