Call edition 2012
A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.
The idea of encouraging a sustainable form of agriculture in developing countries by replacing nitrogenous chemical fertilizers by naturally occurring biological fertilizers was worked out in practice by Ojo and Fagade.
Chemical fertilizers are in fact responsible for the pollution of both surface and underground freshwater sources. Moreover, these products can accumulate in freshwater fish, whose subsequent consumption can become a threat to human health.
Therefore, the researchers used local strains of Rhizobium bacteria, derived from the tropical legume Leucaena leucocephala, which grows on fallow ground everywhere, as a natural fertilizer to replace chemical fertilizers.
Two Rhizobium species were used to optimalize the growth of three woody crop plants. It was shown not only that the biomass production of these crops could be increased but also that the bacteria are extremely resistant and can survive in the soil for over ten years. This means that the cost of vegetable cultivation production is reduced, so that more profit can be made on the sale of the vegetables. This benefits the farmers of course, but it also brings with it a reduction in environmental pollution as fewer fertilizers are introduced into the environment.
It is the merit of the researchers to have shown scientifically that this biological form of farming can be used in developing countries, increasing the return of vegetable cultivation and reducing the burden of artificial fertilizers on the environment.
report by Prof. A. Vlietinck, Department of Pharmaceutical science, Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium