Vermicompost as a fertilizer for urban and peri-urban farms: Perceptions of farmers in Accra, Ghana
Vermicompost is considered a valuable organic fertilizer in many tropical regions, but has rarely been used in sub-Saharan Africa. A study in Accra, Ghana, assessed urban and peri-urban (UP) farmers’ fertilizer and pesticide use, knowledge of earthworms, fertilizer performance criteria, and attitudes toward vermicompost as a fertilizer. Twenty-six farmers involved in irrigated vegetable farming and three subsistence farmers were interviewed. Farmers were aware that earthworm activity was associated with soil fertility, and some associated insecticide applications to reduced earthworm populations. Farmers used the greenness of leaves, crop emergence, stand and yield as indicators of fertilizer performance. Farmers resisted making statements about vermicompost before testing it, and advised that its fertilizer value be tested during the dry season. Farmers involved in irrigated vegetable farming had insufficient space and time for on-farm vermicomposting, while subsistence farmers lacked a reliable access to water necessary for on-farm vermicomposting; but both types of farmers were interested in adopting vermicompost if it improved crop performance. Such lack of farm resources suggest that a commercial facility would be best suited to produce vermicompost from organic waste, which would then be sold to farmers.