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«A.H. Hofny-Collins Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Department of Urban and Rural Development Uppsala Doctoral thesis Swedish ...»

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The Potential for Using Composted

Municipal Waste in Agriculture:

The case of Accra, Ghana

A.H. Hofny-Collins

Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences

Department of Urban and Rural Development


Doctoral thesis

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Uppsala 2006

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae


ISSN 1652-6880

ISBN 91-576-7114-1

© 2006 Anna Hofny-Collins, Uppsala

Tryck: SLU Service/Repro, Uppsala 2006

Abstract Hofny-Collins, Anna. 2006. The Potential for using Composted Municipal Waste in Agriculture: The case of Accra, Ghana.

Doctoral Dissertation. ISSN: 1652-6880, ISBN: 91-576-7114-1.

This thesis addresses the relationship between urban waste and agriculture using an interdisciplinary systems approach. The environmental, economic, socio-cultural and political potential for using municipal waste compost (MWC) in urban and peri-urban agriculture in Accra, Ghana, was explored from different stakeholder perspectives and scales of enquiry. A pluralistic methodology was used in order to address different parts of the research and a critical reflection was made by the researcher on the carrying out of interdisciplinary research using these approaches.

Waste management and composting practices were studied, as was urban and peri-urban agricultural systems. A series of farmer participatory experiments were carried out with urban vegetable growers to test the effects of using MWC from two different composting plants in Accra alongside current farmers’ practices. The perspectives of different stakeholders were also assessed through a combination of methods, including semi structured and informal interviews, participatory appraisal techniques, formal surveys, group discussions and workshops.

Compost quality assessments revealed that the compost from the small-scale James Town plant was of higher quality than that produced at the large-scale Teshie/Nungua plant.

Compost applications had a positive effect on crop growth. However, vegetable producers primarily used chicken manure as a fertility input and compared to this, the compost was inferior, particularly in relation to crop establishment and in creating a higher water demand. The growers were happy with the crop performance from compost, but saw the watering issue as a potential problem. They agreed that compost would be an attractive alternative during the rainy season. They also liked the fact that they did not need to apply compost to each crop, as they did with chicken manure.

Whilst, growers would be willing to use and pay for MWC, both composts were too expensive to represent a viable alternative to other fertility inputs. However, given an appropriate blend of public-private-community partnerships and scales of operation which could harness opportunistic alignments between the needs of different actors, composting and its use in agriculture has potential in contributing towards sustainable development in the urban environment of Accra. With some modest policy support, the possibilities for improving quality and financial viability are considerable. Providing quality and price can meet the needs of growers, there is a market for MWC in Accra.

Keywords: systems thinking, participatory, farmer experimentation, adaptive management, urban agriculture, municipal waste compost, waste management, Accra, Ghana Author’s address: 103 Valkyrie Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, SS0 8AW, England Email: hofnycollinsa@hotmail.com Acknowledgement It seems like a lifetime since I stared this Ph.D. In fact, in my son’s world it is;

when I started he was only a few weeks old. He has never known anything different than having a mother who is working on writing her thesis. People refer to it as a journey, and I agree. It becomes a way of life, a way of thinking and being. I have many people to thank, people who have contributed directly or indirectly to the completion of this work and I am very grateful to them all.

First of all I would like to thank David Gibbon, for being a source of inspiration and for supervising my Ph.D. He was one of the key people who awoke my interest in farming systems research and sustainable development during my years as an undergraduate and instrumental in encouraging me to embark on Ph.D. studies.

When I years later decided to do a Ph.D. he became my supervisor and has been nothing but supportive throughout, in spite of institutional changes and moves that has taken place. I appreciate that he continued supervising me when he moved to the UK as I do SLU for providing the financial arrangements to enable the supervision to be continued. Over the years David has been a supervisor, mentor and friend and I value him greatly.

I am also immensely grateful to Janice Jiggins for the encouragement and invaluable insights she offered me early on when developing my thoughts about the research and for hours spent reading and editing drafts in the latter stages. I consider myself very lucky to have had her input; her perceptive comments, critical feedback and unfaltering encouragement. She has been an inspiration and helped me to keep going at times when I came close to giving up. Thank you Janice!

I would also like to thank several people at HDRA in the UK, where I worked before I started the Ph.D. and where the Ph.D. topic was first conceived. During the early stages of conceptualisation, the support and guidance from both Phil Harris and Margi Lennartsson were very helpful. Later, during the implementation and early data analysis stages I had help from Sandra Bywater, Francis Rayns and Margi. Thank you all!

I would also like to acknowledge the financial support I received from SAREC that enabled the fieldwork in Ghana to take place. In Ghana there are several

people I would like to extend my thanks to:

The vegetable growers for allowing me to share their situation and get a glimpse of their lives and for taking the risk to experiment even though they had such limited land at their disposal. They always made me feel welcome and I greatly enjoyed the time spent with them.

Addo Kwaku for making the on-farm trial a success and for inviting me to meet his family and friends and attend numerous family events. Always positive and happy and great company! To Sowah too for his dedication and reliability.

Bertha Gana at the Ministry of Agriculture for her generosity in welcoming me into her home and for your friendship and support.

Sodey, for competent, reliable work with the vegetable growers and for being a good friend. Without her the vegetable growers’ experiments would not have been possible.

I also have a particular debt of gratitude to Pieter Wisse Klaassen (Growth) for helpful guidance and encouragement and for taking me under his wing. Both he and his wife Ann-Christine contributed to adding quality to my time spent in Ghana. Similar gratitude is extended to Dagmar Kunze (FAO).

Special thanks too to Marlene Belder (FAO) for generous advice and assistance in soil Sampling, Dr Alorvov (Ministry of Agriculture) for going out of his way to assist me in the poultry study, Mr Awuye (WMD) for always being accommodating, Patsy (DFID) for hospitality and informative chats on governance issues and Pay Drechsel (IBSRAM) for guidance and assistance in the early stages of my fieldwork.

I would also like to express my gratitude to:

Phil Brookes at Rothamsted Experimental Station, UK, for generous assistance with issues relating to trial design. Janet Riley at Rothamsted Experimental Station, UK, for devoting considerable time and effort on assisting me with statistical analysis. Gary Travell for spending hours helping me to scan and stitch maps and for offering IT support on numerous occasions.

At SLU I would like to thank my fellow Ph.D. students for stimulating discussions, constructive feedback and friendship. Thank you Seema, Niel, Chrissy, Cathy, Rebecka, Petra, Atakilte, Belaineh, Nonto, Johan, Emil, Malin, Cecilia, Mats and Kristina. I also greatly appreciate the hospitality shown to me by Niel and Stina and by Seema and Stefan at times when I visited Uppsala after I moved back to the UK.

To my parents-in law, Olive and George, without whose constant and generous support I probably would not have been able to complete this thesis. Their willingness to drop everything to make themselves available to look after the family on countless occasions when I needed periods of extended concentration to write, has left me feeling immensely grateful. You have been absolutely fantastic.

Thank you both!

To my husband Mike, instrumental in both starting me doing a Ph.D. and in seeing me through it. He has been supportive in a host of different ways throughout the journey. From reading through endless drafts, discussing the research, enduring extended periods apart during the fieldwork phase, and not least supporting me financially during the latter (yet lengthy) stage of my Ph.D. I know that it has been a significant sacrifice and I am truly grateful to him for sticking by me and seeing it through to the end. I promise that this was the last time I took on a momentous work task like this, renovated two houses and started a family at the same time.


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List of Tables Table 1.1 Examples of household waste generation levels of some cities in developing countries Table 1.2 Proportions of different constituents in the urban waste stream of some different cities in developed and developing countries Table 1.3 Examples of urban agriculture’s contribution to city food requirements and consumption Table 1.4 Urban agriculture’s contribution to food consumption of urban farm households Table 3.1 Research methods employed for the different research activities 91 Table 4.1 Population changes in The Greater Accra Metropolitan Area 101 Table 4.2 Water and sanitation facilities in different income groups and areas of GAMA Table 4.3 Type and proportion of different kinds of wastes of collected waste in Accra Table 4.4 Spread of respondents in accordance with the Noguchi-study classification Table 4.5 Geographical spread of respondents 138 Table 4.6 Importance of farming 142 Table 4.7 The number of different soil fertility inputs or management techniques used by farmers Table 5.1 Cropping history of the field prior to the initiation of the trial 181 Table 5.2 Application rates used at each of the four application occasions in the different treatments Table 5.3 Supply of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium through compost and cow manure applications at each application, 184 annually and in total over the full trial period Table 6.1 Total plant nutrients and carbon content and physical analysis of composts, manures and sludges

–  –  –

Table A1.1 Analysis done on soil, compost, manures 317 Table B2.

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