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Smelling is believing March 9th, 2014 by

In Uganda, Emmanuel Ssemwaga was telling us about a self-cleaning pig sty. The manure just piles up and has no odor, thanks to indigenous micro organisms the farmer applies to it.

Emmanuel was trying to convince Paul and me to help him make a video on what he called the “organic pig sty”. The basic idea is to dig a pit and fill it with sawdust and leave the pig on the sawdust bedding without hardly ever having to clean it. But we weren’t buying it. “That pit will turn to a cesspool” we said. And when Emmanuel said the idea came out of Makerere University in 2011 we said “This technology is too young. Wait until farmers adapt it.”

But they had. The day after we met local farmer Caroline Nansamba who told us about a family that was using the new pig sty, “and the pigs are so clean they look like they just stepped out of the shower,” Caroline said.

The next day, Paul, Emmanuel and I, joined Caroline, and colleagues James and Noel, along with John Kateregga, a friend of Caroline’s who knows how to get to the farm.

We got off the bus in the town of Entebbe, near the capital of Kampala and also the site of the international airport. It is an example of what is now called peri-urban: half-town, half-countryside. The small houses are close together. There is little land to spare and people are trying to grow crops and gardens and raise animals, but at least they have easy access to market.