With rising concerns about the condition of soil fertility in Bangladesh, various stakeholders are trying to promote organic fertilizer to restore soil health and reduce the adverse effects of intensive cropping and high use of chemical fertilisers.
The NGO Practical Action and its partners are undertaking actions in Bangladesh and Nepal to reverse declining soil fertility and promote sustainable agricultural practices by increasing the use of organic fertilizers – from both commercial and household sources.
A study carried out by Practical Action and International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) found that while some fertilizer companies in Bangladesh had already started producing organic fertilizers in the country, there was a lack of a sustainable business model in the field.
The process of making compost involves converting kitchen waste and municipal waste, farm yard manure, crop residues, and other organic materials from their raw state to a form of fertilizer that can be safely used in food production, and adding value to it in the process.
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The study, titled “Collaborative action on soil fertility in South Asia: Experiences from Bangladesh and Nepal,” suggested a supply chain could be created linking waste management to compost production.
A massive amount of municipal waste is produced every day in Bangladesh and it is very poorly managed, leading to pollution of surface water, ground water and the environment, said Hasin Jahan, country director for Practical Action.
“On the other hand organic fertilizer producers suffer from a lack of raw material.”
“If we can utilize this waste, soil health will improve and agricultural production will also increase,” she said.
Approximately 60–70% of waste produced in urban areas is organic, while the rest is inorganic, reads the study.
Policymakers in Bangladesh generally understand the necessity of using organic fertilizers and compost to improve soil health, but they are yet to come up with the policies needed to promote this on a large scale, it said.
Practical Action operates four kitchen waste composting plants in Bangladesh and two sewage treatment plants, one in Satkhira and another in Faridpur.