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Report, 2020

Vermi-composting for increased agricultural productivity, women empowerment and environmental sanitation in northern Ethiopia

Teka, Kassa; Githae, Eunce; Welday, Yemane; GIdey, Efrem


Ethiopian agriculture is characterized by high soil degradation, rain-fed and fragmented land holding, extremely low external inputs and high dependency on traditional farming techniques, which affects the productivity. Women headed households are the most vulnerable to these challenges due to factors such as persistent gender disparities in the labor market and the “double day burden” where they have to fulfil both domestic duties and make money outside the home. By supporting female-headed households through trainings on new organic farming technologies, these households can diversify their sources of livelihood and boost their resilience to climate change and variability. Organic farming systems using vermi-compost (composting with the use of worms) are thought to be the answer for the future food safety and farm security since it improves soil fertility and protect soils from degradation while also promoting plant growth and provides environmental sanitation. Vermi-culture can also enhance the lives of the poor by generating self-employment opportunities. This pilot project aimed at 1) Scaling up the vermi-composting technology to contribute to increased agricultural productivity; 2) training women headed households on the technology to empower them economically and socially; and 3) determining vermi-compost application rates for different soil and crop types under different agroecologies in the Tigray regional state, Ethiopia. The produced vermi-compost generated an income of around 107 to 286 US Dollars per household from increased crop productivity, and an additional income of 9 to 296 US Dollars per household from vermiworms selling. Experimental studies on maize, bread wheat and apple also reported an increase in soil fertility as well as crop yield by vermi-compost addition compared to conventional compost and chemical fertilizer. The trained female household heads perceived the technology as beneficial due to improvements in soil fertility and crop productivity, reduced cost of purchasing chemical fertilizer, easy technology that can be managed by any family member and improved household sanitation through continuous waste removal as worm feed. The technique has proven beneficial, but to scale-up the project to the entire region, the knowledge about the technology by stakeholders needs to be enhanced to secure technical and financial support for up-scaling. Priority also needs to shift from chemical fertilizers to organic ones by extension agents, and the farm level research and demonstration on the technology need to be boosted.


vermi-composting; agricultural productivity; women empowerment; environmental sanitation; Ethiopia

Published in

AgriFoSe2030 Report
2020, number: 23
eISBN: 978-91-576-9706-6
Publisher: SLU Global, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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