Brightening the future by applying bio-slurry on seedlings
Kassahun Emagnu is a biodigester owner who grows fruit seedlings (mainly mango) and other vegetables using bio-slurry as organic fertiliser. Bio-slurry utilisation for fruit seedlings and vegetables accelerates the growth of and improves the health of the seedlings. The growth and healthiness of seedlings result in increased income for Kassahun.
“Having a biodigester has brightened my life which was in darkness!” says Kassahun illuminating his face with a smile. He was introduced to biodigester technology and its multiple benefits when he was a young boy. His parents had a biodigester but it became non-functional due to lack of continuous follow-up and maintenance as his parents were ageing. When he started his own family, having a biodigester was one of his priorities. He has taken the lead in managing the biodigester so that it does not become non-functional.
In 2017, he paid ETB 3,820 for labour, additional cement[i], and other materials required for the construction of 6m3 SINIDU2008 digester. His wife is much more interested in the light and fuel for cooking while he prefers the bio-slurry as he has a plan to expand his mango seedling business and hopes to achieve higher returns by fertilising his farm using bio-slurry. “The bio-slurry makes the seedlings healthy, strong and improves their colour. My customers prefer to pay more for healthy, well grown and good looking seedlings.” says Kassahun. The investment in the biodigester has enabled him to produce quality mango seedlings and earn additional income from the premium price.
(August 2017 to April 2018)
Mango seedlings with bio-slurry
Mango seedling (Grade 1)
Mango seedling (Grade 2)
Mango seedling(Grade 3)
Total income from seedling sale with bio-slurry
Total income without bio-slurry at ETB 15 per each seedling
Additional income as a result of using bio-slurry as organic fertiliser
He uses bio-slurry to grow mango seedlings, mostly grafted. These seedlings are produced in two phases (from August 2017 to April 2018 and from February 2018 to June 2018). For comparison, Kassahun is growing 3,000 seedlings with farmyard manure (FYM) and 14,000 seedlings with bio-slurry as fertiliser for the period from August 2017 to April 2018. He sold 2,281 seedlings raised without bio-slurry using FYM at a price of ETB 15 each and got ETB 34,215. The price of seedlings grown with bio-slurry is higher than the seedlings grown using FYM. From the 14,000 seedlings grown with bio-slurry, he expects an additional income of ETB 100,000. “The application of bio-slurry as organic fertiliser, minimise the number of seedlings that die due to unknown reasons” added Kassahun.
The additional income from the seedlings is attributed to the effect of bio-slurry in accelerating the growth of seedlings. In previous attempts to grow seedlings, as seedling producers around Bahir Dar practice, Kassahun was producing seedlings using compost prepared from FYM, which he buys from dairy producers at a price of ETB 30/bag. The growth of seedlings produced from FYM was not as good and effective as it should be. This resulted in a reduced price of ETB 15/seedling. By applying bio-slurry for raising mango seedlings, he is earning from 25-30 ETB per seedling. This means, he is getting an additional income of 10-15 ETB/seedling and is saving the money for buying and transporting of FYM. The market for seedlings produced from bio-slurry is encouraging as the plants are healthy and well grown.
By specialising in seedling production, he is expecting an annual additional income of ETB 787,470. Considering the maximum cost of a 6m3 SINIDU2008 digester in Amhara region being ETB 14,026 (Bio-Digester Cost Survey 2016), he repays the expenses of his bio-digester in one seedling production season i.e. August 2017 to April 2018.
Even though Kassahun is largely engaged in seedling production, he also grows vegetables like cabbage and pepper, forage, sugarcane, perennial plants (mango, orange, lemon, and banana). In 2018 he demonstrated cabbage with and without bio-slurry. “I am learning from this experience. I am growing cabbage with liquid bio-slurry, composted slurry and with chemical fertiliser only. The results from applying bio-slurry encouraged me to promote the technology” said Kassahun. Moreover, with the support of Eco Hydrology project of MoWIE, he is practicing fish farming. He is growing about 250 fish in a pond to contribute to the maintenance of the ecology of Lake Tana. Kassahun’s business contributes to rural job creation. He employs one permanent and 6-7 part time labourers for his seedling production business.
Mekonnen Mekuria, SNV Bio-slurry Value Chain Expert said, “This case signifies that higher returns can be attained from using bio-slurry for seedling production.”
[i] The Bahir Dar Zuria Woreda Agriculture Office implementing partner of Amhara Regional Biogas Programme Coordination Unit around Bahir Dar supported him with stove, piping and fittings and mason payment, while ORDA supported him with cement and sand.