Urban cows and organic gardening in Addis Abeba

In march 2013 Rocking Soils and MetaMeta circular economy started to test the production of organic fertilizers in the urban environment. With basalt rock dust, cow dung and a few more materials we mounted a system that is been tested for urban gardens in the city.

In Addis Abeba people enjoy the best fresh milk. Lack of refrigeration facilities forces urban farmers to keep dairy cows in the city. Many urban farms in Addis supply the largest amount of fresh milk to the Ethiopian middle and low class. Local cows are  kept nearby the urban mills where the flour from maize, teff, wheat, chickpea, beans, among others is produced for the people and the husks are set apart for the cattle living next door. It minimizes transport proving that best logistics are where you do not need transport.

The presence of cattle in the city means also that small amounts of fresh cow manure are often available in the urban environment. Often is this resource underused. Sometimes this manure is dried and sold as fuel for the kitchens, but due to the smell this practice is slowly been abandoned in the urban areas. This manure is an excellent resource for the urban organic gardener.

Many gardeners already showed their interest as they are aware of the high prices of the artificial (imported) fertilizers.


From left-up and clockwise: Mothammed, Mulu, Sandra, Abebbechm, Afra & Ruben … more photos

Ethiopian farmers make their own organic fertilizers

Rockin Soils partners with MetaMeta to train to Ethiopian farmers, NGO’s and extension officers to produce organic fertilizers. The project brings together local miners and farmers to reuse the waste from farms and mines and produce different types of organic fertilizers and soil amend

future farmer with biofertilizer installation.


Ethiopian soils have good potential for agriculture but after decades of no fertilization the soils are exhausted. Chemical fertilizers failed to help the Ethiopian farmer. They lead to hig

her production on the short ter

m but they are expensive and damage the soil on the long term

This technology is adapted to meet the requirements of the small land holders in remote areas as well as for large commercial farms. For the next four seasons the farmers will be testing the fertilizers in maize, wheat, barley, teff and bean, at four different regions of Ethiopia (Rema, Holleta, Sululta, Arsi Negele). Rockin Soils provides training and field technical support direct to farmers to produce and use the fertilizers and facilitates the development of local networks to disseminate this technology from farmer to farmer.
 Reusing local waste from mines and farms is affordable and healthy for all farmers even when they have no access to machinery, transport nor credit.

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