Improving lives through
sustainable bioinnovations

Rhizobia-mycorrhizae-based bio-fertilizer for small holder farmers in eastern Africa

Rhizobia-mycorrhizae-based bio-fertilizer for small holder farmers in eastern Africa

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The big idea

This project will process waste into fertilizers enriched with beneficial microorganisms that is suitable for diverse and mixed cropping system practiced by majority of smallholder farmers in East Africa. Producing a bio fertilizer using treated urban and rural waste and enriched with identified highly effective beneficial microorganisms in a form that farmers can handle easily and adapted to diverse crops and agro ecological conditions, is a sustainable solution for improving soil fertility, crops yields, farmer livelihoods and preserving the environment.

Why it matters

In Eastern Africa, most households depend on agriculture for their livelihood, and this is the main source of employment, especially for women (Gollin, 2014). Although agriculture is very important in the region, its productivity remains very low compared to the rest of the continents, and this is shown through significantly lower yields of most staple foods than in other continents (FAO, 2018). Previous efforts to improve soil fertility focused on using inorganic fertilizer but results have shown very limited success in Africa and especially in East Africa (Vanlauwe et al., 2014, 2015, 2019; Stewart et al., 2020) because of the high prices and the risk of environmental degradation. The current use of organic waste is constrained by lengthy periods of composting and mineralisation in addition to costs associated with quantity, quality, collection, sorting, transport, and application. Non-treated wastes have also been demonstrated to contain potentially toxic elements (PTEs) (Muhammad et al., 2021).

A new solution

This project will develop a Rhizobia-Mycorrhiza based bio fertilizer product. The fertilizer is made up of beneficial microorganisms that are combined with digested organic waste, manure, biological sludge, and agricultural by-products. The product will be made available in a powdered or granulated form.  It will be an all-in-one fertilizer containing multiple plant nutrients and cocktail of beneficial microorganisms, presented in a more commercial form, and packaged for easy and better use and suited to a wide range of crops. The formulation will also incorporate economic, environmental, social, and human domains to enable its adoption and improvements in soil fertility outcomes.


By the end of the project, it is projected that more than 600,000 smallholder farmers will have access to the rhizobia-mycorrhizae-based bio fertilizers. Other targeted beneficiaries are urban and rural municipal waste authorities who will benefit from positively solving the challenge of accumulation of organic waste. Others include key actors in the value chain such as women and youth entrepreneurs, farmers cooperatives, seeds producers, fertilizer producers, agro-dealers, and sellers through increased demand for their products. In addition, key project staff, scientists and students will be exposed to new and sustained ways of doing science through capacity building and strengthened collaboration across countries.

Environmental sustainability

This project has a dual benefit: recycling waste and preventing hazardous waste from accumulation. The mismanagement of urban and rural wastes can contribute to the emission of GHGs in the atmosphere and seriously contribute to global warming. Producing rhizobia-mycorrhizae-based biofertilizer is an approach that will not only guarantee environmental sustainability but also enhance agroecosystem health, promote biodiversity and productivity, and finally mitigate the effects of climate change. The use of organic waste as a raw material for the biofertilizer formulation will potentially increase carbon sequestration.

Project Partners


Project Leader

Dr. Bintu Nabintu Ndusha – Université Evangelique en Afrique