14 ـJanuary 2020
The Linking Education and Farming "LEAF" Circle of the Sustainability Office at the University of Sharjah succeeds in converting the degradable waste into a high-quality natural fertilizer and using it in organic agriculture with the aim of achieving "zero food waste" on campus. The LEAF Circle began working on his project under the leadership of Dr. Anu Vinod Ranade, Department of Basic Medical Sciences - College of Medicine, last October.
It started with a first pilot phase of the project in the College of Medicine to address the issue of food waste that ends up in landfills, where refrigerators were installed with high capacities in places in the College of Medicine to encourage and enable members of the academic and administrative staff and students to deposit vegetable biodegradable food waste on a daily basis. Then food waste was transferred to large storage boxes and then mixed with microbiome and left for decomposition for two weeks, after which the organic fertilizer is transferred to Community Agriculture section of the Sustainable Park within the campus for the second phase of treatment, which lasted four weeks.
In this short two-month period, the group was able to produce approximately 180 kg of high-quality soil using biodegradable kitchen waste such as vegetable peels, fruits and coffee residues.
With the success of the first pilot phase of the project and the use of high-quality fertilizer to grow plants in the green house in the sustainable garden on the campus, the University of Sharjah plans to expand this project to include all other colleges on the campus in the current year 2020. A workshop was held for students and faculty and staff members as part of the awareness campaign organized by the University of Sharjah under the slogan "The Year of Sustainability 2020" to inform them of the results and transfer the experience and educate them on how to recycle food waste to produce high-quality natural fertilizer as well as the importance of this in preserving the environment.
For his part, Dr. Imad Alsyouf, Director of the Sustainability Office, stated that the University of Sharjah is the first higher education institution in the country working on this initiative, as it aims to educate future generations by creating awareness about the benefits of producing soil for organic agriculture to achieve a sustainable food system. He added that the application of natural fertilization systems on a community scale will reduce the amount of food waste that is disposed of in landfills, which supports the efforts of the Emirate of Sharjah to reduce landfills, and also maintains and promotes soil health in the UAE. He stressed that natural fertilizer from biodegradable residues works to improve sanitary local soil, by providing a large variety of microorganisms that help and increase the quality of the soil, which encourages and enhances agricultural productivity and thus the economy in general.