In its effort to help farmers best manage their animal waste, the Samoa Federated Farmers Incorporated (S.F.F.I.) has implemented the Mamoe Project.
The US$30,000 (T$77,365) project is funded by the U.N.D.P. Global Environmental Finance (G.E.F.).
S.F.F.I. has been given US$15,000 (T$38,656) of the total fund, which has been utilised by the association to set up model farms at Salelua, Ululoloa and Tufulele, and to also purchase materials for sheep farmers who are members of the association.
The Mamoe project focuses specifically on sheep farmers and how they can better manage and dispose their sheep waste to create a more conducive environment for farming by turning waste into properly processed compost for farmers, especially vegetable farmers.
Kirifi Pouono, a sheep farmer, told the Business team the project is good for the environment because when sheep numbers increase, their waste can be better managed rather than becoming an environmental problem.
“So it’s basically focusing on how best the waste can be managed because when the waste is there, it can be a source of foul smell, it can be a threat to the animal and people around the place,” Kirifi said.
The project focuses on sheltered animals only, including chicken and pigs, but for now Kirifi said the association has identified only sheep farmers. The concept and implementation of the project involves cementing the base of the shelter so the waste can be easily cleared and processed into compost.
“Up until now, we’ve done two weeks of processing already at the Salelua model farm. At Salelua, there is already 130-150 sheep, after a month you will have a heap of manure for processing to compost."
“This is still the beginning and we are still researching as to how long it will take to process. I think my estimation looking at the amount of waste for the month; we are probably looking at three-four cubic metres of waste processed into compost per month,” Kirifi explained.
He said not properly cementing the floor of the shelter can add to more labour costs.
“If it’s properly cemented, then you can bring that labour time down, say 30minutes. One week of labour trying to clear waste down to 30 minutes of labour. So it saves time, energy and money,” Kirifi said.
He explained the three model farms will be for sheep farmers who wish to grab the concept and implement it in their own farms.
“It can be difficult to explain things to the farmers unless they see what’s happening and how it’s done and then it will be easy to deliver the message to them because when we talk to them, they think more of fencing and buying the sheep, but no that’s not the purpose of the project."
“The focus of the programme is on sheep as an industry but the concept is applicable to other livestock like chickens, pigs and sheltered animals, where you expect to have an accumulation of waste in a location that you can get rid of not so much cattle because it may require a different strategy.”
Kirifi explained for the processing of waste, one must have a source of carbon.
“There is sawdust available from Vaitele, mix it with manure at a certain ratio, I think for the sawdust and manure, you’re looking at 30 units of manure to one unit of sawdust and proper ratio of water, keep mixing it until it’s ready. So you may be looking at three weeks,” he said.
“We are still keeping in touch with them (sheep farmers), and some of them still have problems with accessibility because of Tropical Cyclone Gita, so if we can’t reach, then we can’t deliver the materials and then we can’t implement."
“We are still consulting with sheep farmers, whoever is ready then we deliver them the materials, we don’t give any cash to farmers. At the moment we’ve decided that we’ll develop the model farms and then training will be conducted for the farmers to go and see and then we continue to other farmers based on whatever funding is available.”
The major challenge with farming is cost, Kirifi highlighted, but it all comes down to a positive approach towards sustainable farming.
“It can be challenging in terms of going through the process, but positive farming helps in terms of utilising more of the potential resources of income for farmers,” he said.
“There is a time frame for this project, we are supposed to put in a report in June, but there has been some delay because of Tropical Cyclone Gita, so the farmers were focusing on other recovery measures, especially with damages to fencing, accessing farmers especially those in Fiaga up until now is difficult. The roads are really bad, so there has been a delay in terms of implement ation. We implemented the project around May-June this year.”
Kirifi said they need to provide a report of the project and the utilisation of the funds before the other half is given to the association.
“In the long run, the compost will eventually be sold to farmers because that’s the intention, however the product needs to be developed properly,” he said.