Greening with garbage
The sight of local Niger women throwing kitchen trash out into the African desert inspired a Japanese researcher to turn arid land into a verdant advantage.
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It was the sight of local women throwing kitchen waste out into the Niger desert in Africa that inspired Shuichi Oyama. Perhaps, he thought, garbage could be used to green land made arid by drought and climate change. It turned out that the Kyoto University researcher was right.
His method involves scattering urban garbage on arid land, covering it in sand, and waiting for decomposition and insects to produce fertile topsoil – a process that can take several years.
Seeds in the garbage, meanwhile, grow into edible plants that can be harvested or used to feed livestock. And as well as providing new food and income, greening the desert can reduce conflict among farmers.
That’s because it makes livestock less likely to wander and damage crops.
Oyama now intends to improve how plastic and toxic substances in the garbage are dealt with.
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