Ivory Coast: BioTropic is setting the course for optimised organic farming

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Shortly after the first dry season of this year, Messan N’ditsi and Heinz-Peter Christiansen travelled to the pineapple fields of the producer association Ivoire Organics. The BioTropic agricultural engineer N‘ditsi and the ecology pioneer Christiansen took a look at the fields and soil in order to jointly develop further ideas for sustainable soil quality. Christiansen is a specialist in soil fertility and organic seed production from North Germany. We asked him to contribute his expertise.

Workplace safety and a good harvest are also important concerns here. How can the tropical soil of Ivory Coast provide the people of the region with long-term prospects? Does that mean soil improvement instead of regular harvest? BioTropic has formulated solution scenarios that can be achieved jointly with Ivoire Organics and has implemented these again and again in recent years; a trial compost heap was set up, green manuring and the cultivation of catch crops were conducted.

The current objective is now to optimise the processes at Ivoire Organics and to increase the yields sustainably. N’ditsi took soil samples from the field regularly in order to test their pH value and nutrient composition. For this purpose he always has with him a case of full of testing equipment. After analysis he can determine whether the soil is lacking something and if so, what and how much it needs. Only with these results can N‘ditsi and Christiansen develop sustainable fertilisation planning and therefore determine the amount of fertiliser that should be spread in the field. “More is better” does not apply here: an excess of fertiliser would not be taken up by the plants and would also pollute the soil and groundwater needlessly. If the soil already has a good essential composition of nutrients, it should then accordingly be fertilised even less.

Exploiting water potential long term
In addition to the soil, the programme also includes an optimised water supply. The large conurbation around Abidjan in the south of the country fortunately offers a sufficient amount of good-quality water. However, there are always seasonal periods with little precipitation. During the dry season there is often too little rainfall to meet the water demand for the people and pineapples.

A new solar-powered pump in an Ivoire Organics field aims to help with this. The pump will be used when precipitation is irregular. However, the system is not yet complete. As soon as the pump is operational, a nearby village will also benefit from the additional water. The water from the pump is freely available for anyone.

The groundwater reservoir is refilled during the rainy season at the latest. Then, at a stunning speed, the water rises up to knee-level, but, within a few hours, it trickles away into the porous, sandy loam.


Text: Visnja Malesic
Pictures: BioTropic GmbH
Issued: April 2017

Tags: Ivory Coast (GB), Ivoire Organics (GB), Messan N’ditsi (GB)

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