Transforming farming in Niger: Aboubacar Alou Sidi's biodigester success story

Aboubacar's journey highlights the profound impact biodigesters can have on productivity and environmental sustainability.

In the heart of Niger's Dosso region, a transformative initiative is quietly taking place, bringing hope and sustainability to local farming communities. Driven by Pro-ARIDES, the programme has made significant strides in improving agricultural productivity and strengthening the resilience of the food system through the introduction of innovations such as biodigester technology. One of the pioneering beneficiaries of this initiative is Aboubacar Alou Sidi, a farmer and head of household in Dioundiou. Aboubacar's experience highlights the profound impact of biodigester technology on agricultural practices and rural livelihoods.

The impact of biodigesters on agricultural productivity

Biodigesters are anaerobic digesters that convert organic waste into biogas and compost. This technology offers a sustainable alternative to chemical fertiliser, which is becoming increasingly expensive and scarce in Niger. For Aboubacar, the installation of a biodigester in his family's backyard has brought immediate and multiple benefits.

Aboubacar uses the biodigester to process livestock waste, turning it into valuable biogas and biofertiliser. This high-quality compost has replaced the need for chemical fertiliser. This shift has significantly increased his agricultural productivity, allowing him to grow a wider variety of higher-quality produce.

The biodigester has eliminated the need for chemical fertilizer and significantly increased my agricultural productivity. I now grow cucumbers, watermelons, tomatoes, and more. The quality of the food I produce has also improved,' says Aboubacar.

The compost produced not only meets Aboubacar's needs, but also provides an additional source of income. With 32 tonnes of compost available, he has started selling the surplus, bringing financial stability to his household. His first sale of 10 bags earned him 50,000 CFA francs, and the second sale brought in 60,000 CFA francs.

Beyond the economic benefits, the biodigester has improved the living conditions of Aboubacar's family. His wife now uses biogas for daily cooking, eliminating the need for wood - a common but increasingly scarce fuel in rural areas. Biogas is not only healthier for the family, it is also environmentally friendly. The compost produced is also safe and natural, with no health risks.

Overcoming challenges in the fertilizer market

Before he started composting, Aboubacar relied heavily on chemical fertiliser, which was very expensive. 'I used to use one tonne of fertiliser in the off-season and two tonnes in the rainy season,' he recalls. Switching to biofertiliser has resulted in significant savings, a crucial advantage given Niger's economic challenges.

The liberalisation of the fertiliser sector in January 2022 exacerbated the situation because of supply problems. The state-owned CAÏMA lost its monopoly, leading to higher prices and inconsistent availability and quality of chemical fertiliser. For farmers like Aboubacar, biodigesters offer a reliable and sustainable alternative.

Aboubacar Alou with some watermelons and cucumbers produced using effluent from his biodigester

Smallholder farmers and the future of biodigester technology

The success of Aboubacar and others benefiting from Pro-ARIDES highlights the strategic benefits of the widespread adoption of biodigesters. This technology not only increases agricultural productivity but also strengthens the resilience of food systems to economic and environmental challenges.

Aboubacar is so convinced of the benefits that he plans to invest in another biodigester at his own expense. His story is an inspiration to other farmers in Niger and beyond, demonstrating the potential of sustainable agricultural practices to transform lives and communities.

Pro-ARIDES' support for biodigester installation is a beacon of hope for farmers in Niger. By providing a sustainable solution to fertiliser challenges and improving both economic and environmental outcomes, biodigesters are playing a crucial role in reshaping the future of agriculture in the region. As more farmers like Aboubacar adopt the technology, the impact on productivity, health and livelihoods will be profound, paving the way for a more resilient and sustainable agricultural landscape in the region.

Learn more about the Pro-ARIDES project