News - December 11, 2014

Column: The power of compost

I am at the home of Lukia Akurugu, a North Ghanaian woman who lives with her four children and mother. A female headed household, like so many others in Africa. A female friend is twisting blond extensions in Lukia’s black hair because she wants to look her best tomorrow. I ask her how she runs her farm.

Shyly, she tells me about compost, about the group she belongs to and about the fields where she is growing a whole host of crops. All the work is done in groups; one day they’ll be making compost at her farm, the next day at Mariama’s farm, the day after at Asibi’s. They also share a donkey and cart; that’s how they transport compost to the fields. She’s been doing this for six years now and provided it rains regularly, the yield is enough to feed her household. What’s more, she can even send her children to school with a pen and notebook! Every time the group meets, they each pay 1 cedi membership fee. This enables them to accumulate funds they can draw on later. Another woman told me, ‘Compost keeps our soil together and makes it fertile, but compost also keeps our community together since we enjoy working in groups, and the work goes faster! You don’t get that with NPK fertilizer! And sir, my husband doesn’t beat me anymore because there is enough food in the house! The power of compost. Tomorrow, at the National Farmer’s Day event, Lukia will receive the award for ‘Best Female Compost Farmer’ of the district! For her, life revolves around the group and compost. I want to hug her, but I can’t; it wouldn’t be appropriate. So I give her a big smile instead and say to her, ‘Oh, Madam, you are producing more food than my wife!’ We part with beaming happy smiles all round.