Farmers urged to use fertilizer made from human urine


By Michael Chiotcha

Farmers have been advised to grow crops using ‘Bionitrate’, fertilizer made locally using human urine.

‘Bionitrate’ is a Malawian fertilizer, recycled from human urine, and it is a rich source of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.

The remarks comes amid an increase in prices of chemical fertilizer with a 50 Kg bag of Urea fertilizer going at MK70,000, NPK at MK66,000 and CAN at MK65,000 varies based on shops.

According to the Director of Environmental Industries, Goodfellow Phiri, the process of making Bionitrate fertilizer involves harvesting human urine and subjecting it into fermentation process for a week or more.

“In the fermentation process, the chemistry of the urine changes, eliminating the pungent odour, killing pathogens in the substance,” said Phiri.

The Bionitrate per hectare of a Maize field requires 400 litre, and is currently sold at MK600 per litre but farmers are trained to make their own fertilizer after buying from Environmental Industries.

Bionitrate made from urine

“For best results, farmers are advised to apply compost manure before planting the crops, for basal dressing. The application of Bionitrate is not limited to Maize, it can be applied to Wheat, Vegetables, Flowers, rice and beans,” Phiri said.

Since Bionitrate was introduced 10 years ago, 1000 farmers have benefited in Lilongwe, Mchinji, Neno and Mzimba.

“The dream is to be a national brand for organic fertilizer and have distribution outlets in all districts. Currently the fertilizer is only available at the factory in Lilongwe,” Phiri added.

“The fertilizer is applied to growing crops by drilling small holes around the plant and directing the liquid into the holes at the base of the crop, in a maize field it is applied when crops are 3 to 5 weeks old after germination. The fertilizer is diluted at 1 to 10, and applied once or twice in two week interval, the process is complemented with compost manure. No more application of chemical fertilizer,” Phiri narrated.

He further said that Bionitrate is mainly nitrogen fertilizer suitable for nitrogen deficient acidic soils, Alkaline in state. Therefore, it provides double benefits in acidic soils, provides plant nutrients and also neutralizes soil acids. This fertilizer is viable alternative to agriculture lime for conditioning acidic soils.

Phiri said the company also has been imparting the knowledge to different farmers, to become self reliant, on producing their own Bionitrate fertilizer in their respective homes.

The fertilizer has been analyzed by Agriculture Research Extension Trust (ARET), and also working with LUANAR for efficiency. Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) currently has no standards for Bionitrate.

From 2019, ARET laboratory report compiled by Chemist, Alick Mphembera, the fertilizer has been recommended regarding the test of the samples submitted.

Supplementing on the benefits of Bionitrate fertilizer, a Lilongwe based farmer, Winston Davie Banda, said he does not regret his two year period of using the fertilizer.

Banda said the fertilizer is very affordable and attracts high yield in return.

“Bionitrate fertilizer scares away all butterflies in the applied field and cutworms are not accessible” he said.

Environmental Industries is a private firm, registered with Malawi Government and is in the business of recycling human urine into organic fertilizer.

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