March 2023

Hello ,

Make your own compost

There are several ways to make organic fertilizer, each with their pros and cons. Jacana has developed a training course in which different ways of making compost are taught. All ingredients are available in Zambia. On March 28, the first training was held for farmers who had registered during the SMART market (see newsletter of January).

Chongo Phiri and Collins Musonda were trainers of a group of 10 participants. A large part of the morning was spent on theory and the rest of the day consisted of practical training.
Theory session by Chongo Phiri

The following topics were covered:
  • Making Berkely compost heap
  • Making compost tea
  • Making lab serum
  • Making Bocashi bio compost

Lab serum

A video was used to make lab serum, made by Lifeworks Global. The video shows in clear steps how lab serum is made.
Participants add green material

Berkely compost

After that, all participants made a Berkely compost heap under guidance of the trainers. This required: brown material (in this case sawdust was used, because there is no brown material to be found in nature during the rainy season), green material (now abundant), chicken manure, a little bit of wood ash and a lot of water.
This compost heap needs to be turned every week and it takes 6 to 8 weeks before it is ready for use.

Berkerly compost

Bocashi compost

Second, they made the Bocashi compost heap. This required: brown material, 2 or 3 types of manure (chicken, goat, cow), biochar (charcoal), yeast, molasses, maize bran and clay.
This compost heap should be turned twice for the first four days, then once a day for about 11 days. The compost heap is ready in 12 to 15 days. It is important to keep an eye on the temperature during the first four days.

Bocashi compost

Compost tea

Finally, they learned how to make compost tea from leaves (Gliricidia, Thitonia). These are finely chopped, placed in a permeable bag and then hung in a bucket of water for two weeks. The tea can then be used as a top dressing.
Explanation about compost tea


The participants learned what materials to use, how to build the layers of the Berkely and the Bocashi, how much water to add, how to turn the compost heaps and how to monitor the structure and temperature of the compost. In addition, they have learned how to apply compost to their own fields.
In the end, the participants can choose for themselves which form of compost suits them best.

All participants received a partially sponsored drums and rake, 5 liters of molasses (by-product of sugar production) and a pack of yeast. With these materials they can get started right away.

If you want to try making your own compost then here is the manual.

Organic fertilizer making 4 methods
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