Benin's home-grown fertilizer thrives amid shortage

STORY: Tomato farmer Jerome Zinzou hasn't felt the impact of a global shortage in fertilizer.

Two years ago he switched to an all-natural alternative made locally in his country Benin.

Since then, he says, his crops are better and more abundant.

Just a few miles away, the product's inventor is collecting ingredients.

Arnaud Bonou uses leaves, dried soy beans, and crushed snail shells.

They are then added to other elements including flour, dirt and, cooking oil.

"We sell our fertilizers most of the time to organizations that support producers who work towards a kind of food security, food self-sufficiency."

It's called Magi-Ko, and demand for Bonou's nutrient-packed fertilizer has soared since the start of the Ukraine conflict.

He says his sales rose more than 10-fold between 2021 and 2022.

Farm retailer Steve Hoda sells Magi-Ko products:

"This is a fertilizer that is produced locally by young Africans, young Beninese, and therefore facilitates accessibility."

Hoda says his producers have seen a better quality of harvest meaning they can sell more and at above market prices.

Advocates says organic fertilizers like Bonou's have a stronger, more durable impact on crops.

In addition, they do not degrade soil in the long-run.

Bonou believes demand for products like his will continue to grow.

"It may take time," he say, "but at some point we know we will steal the spotlight."