Urban Waste is the Solution – Improving Agriculture in Beira

Flore Roura is a French social entrepreneur and business manager that began her idea of improving soil with the help of urban waste with the goal of bettering agricultural outputs, while living in Madagascar in 2008. She is a mother of two children and is now living and implementing her activity in Beira, a city with more than 600.000 inhabitants, where the food production is quite low because of degraded soils. Cow manure which can be used as fertilizer to increase crop yields, could deal with this problem but it isn’t available in the needed quantities. With bad soils, problems like farmers not having enough income, arise. Flore, however, knows how to approach this problem: “Urban waste is the solution”, she says.

But how can waste help to improve soils?

The city of Beira produces more than 250 tons of waste a day. Which is a lot.

 “The majority of this waste is compo stable since 50-90% of the urban waste consists of organic materials” says Flore, the Founder of Terra Nova, an innovative, social and sustainable enterprise that focuses on transforming urban waste into good quality natural compost which is then used as fertilizer to boost the growth of crops.

When I started this business on my own, it wasn’t always easy. Especially at the beginning when we started the dump site. But fast I got a small team with good social skills as my first co-workers who helped me through a lot of difficult situations.” – explains Flore.

Each day, three full trucks with waste are being dumped onto the recycling site of Terra Nova. As a plus socially disadvantaged (vulnerable) people are formally contracted to sort out the non-organic material and make sure the rest (approx. 60 tons/month) gets piled up onto the huge composts’ windrows.

A lot of the people that work for Terra Nova are former waste scavengers, beggers, some were homeless, sexworkers or criminals. Once, there were three young men that were known in the community as thieves and they were quite proud about it. They tried to frighten me in the street, asking for money and I said them to work at Terra if they wanted to get some money. One of them is still working for me, since 4 years without having stolen anything else. The work at the recycling plant can really help to get out of the criminal environment” – concludes Flore.

Combining ecological sustainability with social impact has a huge impact on local communities. At the moment Terra Nova has forty employees, but Flore estimates that with the growing urban waste problem there is a potential for developing it into a company with three hundred employees.

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