19 Feb 2015 13:10pm
OKAHANDJA, 19 FEB (NAMPA) While most people would find working with horse, cattle or chicken droppings offensive, Johann le Riche looked at it as compost for crops and as money in the bank.
Le Riche is the General Manager of Greenfield Organic Fertilizers, which is located about 13 kilometres outside Okahandja.
The company has 26 employees, who on a daily basis pack and seal various bag sizes amounting to 15 tonnes of compost per day.
Compost can be used as fertilizer for food crops, lawns as well as gardens.
Le Riches conviction of recycling various animal dung, tree bark and charcoal together and then to convert it into compost to fertilize crops, secured him a loan of N.dollars 3.9 million from the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) last year.
EIF Chief Executive Officer Benedict Libanda said during a visit to the project on Monday that the Fund continues a legacy by supporting individuals, projects and communities who ensure the sustainable use of resources and employment-creation.
Funds are used for investing in the protection and wise management of the environment, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources for economic development and conserving biological diversity and ecological life-support functions, he noted.
However, it was a long battle to start with the project in 2012 with only six workers.
Le Riche described the first two years of the business as very tough.
With only N.dollars 1 million in his pocket during that time, the project was not ideal and profitable.
He previously worked at the Etunda Irrigation Scheme at Ruacana before starting with the project at Okahandja.
By then, he had already experimented with various compost and manure types.
People told me that this organic stuff will not work, and farmers are still scared to use our products.
The young generation understand the products, because it is working. All it needs now is just a mind-change, he added.
The team collects horse dung from stalls in this town, as well as in the capital when the need arises.
Chicken dung is collected at Namib Poultry, while cattle dung is gathered from various farms around the same town.
Women from the nearby Osire Refugee Camp also collect and sell tree bark to the company.
Charcoal left-overs are also collected from production farms in the area.
According to Le Riche, compost not only supplies many nutrients for crop-production, but it also increases the water-holding capacity of coarse-textured sandy soils, while improving drainage in fine-textured soils. Compost also provides a source of slow release nutrients, reduces wind and water erosion and promotes the growth of earthworms as well as other beneficial soil organisms.
The proper use of compost is essential from both a production and environmental standpoint.
Applying rates which are too low can lead to nutrient deficiency and low yields.
Thus, understanding how to manage compost is important for any operation which relies on it as a major source of nutrients, he continued.
The bags of the various compost products which are produced at Greenfield Organic Fertilizers include moo poo, potting soil, special mix, Namibian tree bark, sports field booster and lawn booster.
The products contain cattle and chicken manure, sand, phosphate, carbon, fermented wheat straw as well as wood shavings.
The compost is at the moment only available at chain stores such as Agra and Pupkewitz, as well as at the Omeya Golf Estate, Ferreiras Garden Centre, Klein Eden Country Lodge and the Swakopmund municipality.
Le Riche makes about N.dollars 2.2 million per month in supplying Agra alone with the compost products.
The biggest challenge currently is that the local market is too small, he said.
In the near future, international markets will include Angola, Zambia and Malawi.
Our products bring excellent results, and we guarantee success on condition that the application is strictly done to our specifications.
The only way to improve and enhance the beauty of your lawns and gardens is by using our product range, whilst no chemical fertilizer has the ability to do that, he boasted.