Meet our nascent bio-fertilizer team - Najala business tech graduate, Mohammed, another Mohammed, first year Agricultural student and Yao, a second year research student introducing themselves to you.
What are they doing and how did they get here? Well…long story short: the team are collecting samples of Azolla to study for our demonstration farm, Hope Sakuma, to help us intensify sustainable rice production in Sanda Magbolontor chiefdom.
We learnt about this little miracle plant from the Azolla Foundation and the world leading experts there who share their knowledge generously and thanks to their help and technical expertise we have our first component for bio-fertilizer.
Not only is Azolla a great fertilizer – one that can be composted, fermented or used a green manure, fixing 3 times more nitrogen per hectare per year than legumes and which is grown to intensify rice production for centuries in China and Vietnam - but this tiny plant stores more carbon dioxide (CO2) than either mangroves or forests - 6-8 times more per hectare per year! That’s why our partners at Society 4 Climate Change Communications are so interested in its benefits.
Azolla’s other benefits are myriad – it’s a really nutritious livestock feed, particularly loved by chickens and ducks; it’s got an amazing potential as an eco bio-fuel and Azolla can filter water and reduce mosquito and zika populations by 95%!
So pretty amazing stuff this Azolla, nothing short of a miracle courtesy of mother nature and now destined for Hope Sakuma.
Over the past month our friend of a friend of a friend, Mohammed managed to track some likely Azolla down – this was no easy task as a first year student approaching his lecturer and department head as Azolla wasn't known at the university by name but a photograph from the Azolla Foundation did the trick and Mohammed's lecturer sent him to a nearby swamp.
Pictures were sent to the Azolla Foundation’s leading expert, Dr Francisco Carrapico for identification, another visit was required and more photos - this time of the back and roots and to provide an idea of scale - and Dr Francisco kindly confirmed the swamps round Najala university itself have ample supplies of Azolla pinnata, native to West Africa.
Meanwhile, at the Hope Sakuma farm the nerica seedlings, now germinated, will be transplanted into these IVS paddies being cleaned and dug over and we’ll be collecting our Azolla team and some Azolla for our first demonstration plots where the Azolla will get to work suppressing weeds, feeding ducks and releasing nitrogen just as the rice seed sets and swells!
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