Thursday, May 23, 2024
Home Farming Tips Kilimo Trust Equips Farmers To Harness Rice Waste

Kilimo Trust Equips Farmers To Harness Rice Waste

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Herbert Musoke

Rice is not only one of the leading food crops but it can also be instrumental in nourishing soil.

Aligned with the theme of the 2024 Harvest Money Expo, Farming as a Commercial Business: Post-Harvest Handling and Innovations, Kilimo Trust showcased a comprehensive centre for rice cultivation, post-harvest techniques, and innovative solutions.

This was aimed at enhancing the profitability of rice farming while promoting environmental sustainability.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, by 2020, Uganda was producing about 238,000 tonnes of rice, with consumption estimated at 346,309 tonnes and the gap filled by imports.

The report also indicates that rice is now the third most widely consumed food in the world, feeding about 3.5 billion people, presenting opportunities for the country to reap big by growing it.

Uganda’s growing population means an increased food demand, which is the reason for a higher production of rice, which means more waste, especially straw.

The straw is often disposed of through burning, which releases pollutants into the environment like carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide, among others

 Improving soil

Kilimo Trust, one of the exhibitors at the Harvest Money Expo at Kololo Independence Grounds, showcased innovations from rice. One of these was turning rice straw into biochar.

This is a conditioner that is used to improve the soil structure for better crop growth and high harvests. Biochar is not a fertiliser, Diana Male Nakubulwa, a soil scientist with Kilimo Trust, says.

Biochar neutralises an acid pH, thus making it easy for the crop to utilise fertilisers and nutrition in the soil.

“Since our soils have been overused, they are becoming less productive and thus need to be revamped and biochar will help with this,” she says.

Manure

Rice straws and husks can be used to make vermicompost (an organic fertiliser), which is useful for crop growth, says Gabriel Olenga, who was in charge of the vermicompost at the Kilimo Trust stall.

He adds that one works with improved earthworms that are fed on rice straws. It takes 90-120 days to make vermicompost.

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