Project Results: 

Seedlings Safi Sana

Vegetable nursery using recycled sludge

About the project
In a biogas installation in Accra, Ghana, Safi Sana makes valuable products from faecal sludge and organic waste. Two of them, compost and treated effluent, are difficult to sell. In this pilot, compost and treated waste water are used to grow seedlings in a greenhouse, for which there appears to be a better market. This way, the treatment of waste becomes self sustaining, thus improving the financial sustainability of the plant.

Key results

  • Greenhouse with effective area of 200m2 using irrigation based on waste water and compost.
  • Testing of production line of vegetables and direct sales of compost.
  • 1344 farmers trained on use of compost: improved production of horticulture by farmers.
  • Contribution to an improved and feasible business case for the Safa Sana concept.
  • Water efficient production: the only products used are seeds, cocopeat, soil, rain water and waste products.
  • Mineral composition is key.
  • Sludge base of the compost is not a real taboo.

Tips for the future

  • A good sales chain requires a production that is large enough.
  • Waste products need treatment to lower the salt content and get the right mineral balance.
  • Green house design needs further improvement to combat heat peaks and cold troughs.
  • Re-use of effluent in irrigation and compost of black soil and organic waste mix requires highly skilled staff and monitoring.
  • With professionally built growing tables, the innovative method of tidal irrigation is successful to work with high mineral contents.

Potential for growth
The business case is feasible if Safi Sana can sell seedlings at 6 cent (GHC) each. The compost/seedling component will be an option for each future Safi Sana plant. Application will depend on the size of the plant and the existence of a market for the end products. This market will be created when farmers have become accustomed to the advantages of professionally grown seedlings and start buying them.

Project partners
Safi Sana Ltd, Wageningen University, Ghana University, Tikola Ltd.

September 2015 - September 2017


Accra, Ghana


In the area of Ashaiman 70% of the total population has no access to proper sanitation. There is waste treatment plant in Ashaiman Municipal District and all waste water and solid waste are disposed in landfills and the sea . In Ghana there is limited use of good vegetable seeds. The Ghanaian vegetable farmers’ community uses predominantly local recovered seeds. There are a few importers and distributors of imported seeds that are of a higher quality then the local seeds. The existence of new plant viruses kills vegetable plants. Some of the newly imported plant seeds may be resistant but the crop type does not fit the consumer demand. Therefore seed inoculation to create new crops that will meet local demand is needed. Seeds preferably are then grown in a controlled environment, a plant nursery, to bridge the sensitive phase of young seedlings and increase the success rate of germination to 99%.

Project Plan

The project plan consists of 4 processes: 1) Development of compost for nursery production: A) calculate mix combinations using sludge from the Safisana plant and local sources for growing media, B) produce 5-10 mixes and test for different crops: Lettuce, Tomato, Pepper. 2) Perform market research and develop business case and marketing strategy 3) designing and realising the greenhouse, coach the staff in producing nursery material and provide training for local growers to use the high-quality nursery material to achieve better yields 4) improving the current organic fertilisers: A) calculate optimal fertiliser combinations based on local soil conditions, B) mix 2-4 combinations (with additional N-sources to improve the value), C) test these mixes together with local growers.

Target group

The primary target group of the project is the local community with the service of better hygiene in waste disposal. Another prime target group are the local growers, being mostly women. These women are generally more open for training than their male counterparts. The training will be focussed on using quality planting material for higher yields and higher quality and food safety. High food safety standards will then reach the general public with better vegetables.


The project follows the FIETS principles.
Financial: The farmer pays for the seedlings in-/excluding a transport cost mark-up. Generated revenue covers operational expenses of the nursery including cost of salary, seeds, packaging and maintenance. Compost and irrigation water are supplied by the sanitation waste treatment facility. Nursery operations is in the hands of Safi Sana Ghana ltd (SSGL). Training is facilitated by SSGL and East West Seeds/Tikoli Ltd.
Institutional: The Safi Sana project is a PPP, done in cooperation with the local Municipality who's role is to facilitate waste access and provision of land for the treatment plant. Safi Sana has a Build Operate and Transfer arrangement with the Municipality to run operations and sales for 18 years. The project is monitored by a Project Steering Committee incl the Ministry of Food & Agriculture and Local Government (responsible for environmental sanitation) as key stakeholders.
Environmental: The waste treatment facility is able to treat 25 tonnes of faecal and organic waste daily for 100% re-use purposes. The waste has a negative impact on ground water quality, community hygiene and health risk like flooding. Additionally, nutrient recovery will help to bring back necessary nutrients and organic material to the agric soils.
Technical: Some greenhouse production exists in Ghana as well as a small technical supply sector. The greenhouse will be designed for using locally available technology, so that technical challenges can be dealt with at short notice. Also the mixing units for substrate as well as fertiliser will be built with low tech, locally available technology. The activities are performed on the premises of SafiSana, enabling quick supply of extra knowledge on the use of technology or repair.
Social: Agriculture in Ghana is performed by mainly women – both production and trade. The project includes local growers and consumers to learn to use the new organic fertilisers and nursery material. These new innovations will lead to better profits for the growers through higher quality produce. Higher quality food will lead to increased consumer health, confidence in quality and improved sales. The nursery will be designed so that the activities can be performed by disabled people.

Overview of Goals

With this project we want to make better use of the compost and process water that we generate in the production process. By doing that we will further diversify the product portfolio and we will make full use and monetize the process water. After successful completion of this project, the nursery model can be fully integrated and further up scaled in future projects.

Results and indicators

  • knowledge, marketing and (after)sales capacity reaching 1000 people
  • double greenhouse built and operational
  • A package of technology, processes/training and planting material, which is developed into a model that will bring higher profit to farmers and improved products to consumers
    • a package
  • mixes of compost and irrigation water for nursery applied by 20 people