How Afforest for the Future Project Turns Desert Sludge into Farmlands

Afforest for the Future is a project that reclaims desert sand into arable farmlands. The startup applies the principle of muck collection to create arable land from the sand. The startup focuses on solving the sedimentation problem and creation of arable land. The challenge facing most dams globally is sludge accumulation due to sedimentation. If the condition continues for long, the dam’s water storage capacity declines. One of the mechanisms of mitigating this menace is by scrapping the sludge from the dam. The waste can be treated then spread over the desert sand to create a farmland. Finally, local farmers use the land for crops and tree planting.

According to the startup’s CEO, Vesela Tanaskovic, the traditional methods take a long time. Vesela added that modern technique of soil amendment shortens the time lag. The CEO developed a process that requires only 24 hours. She came up with the idea during her Ph.D. in the Technical University of Vienna. The startup carried out an accelerator program last year based on Tanaskovic’s discovery. The program took place at the Singularity University.

She narrated that water runoffs and rivers take sediments into the dams. Due to mismanagement of dams, these facilities are filled up with these sediments. Her discovery works by grinding the sediments into small particles. The tiny particles are then mixed with water and mud at the treatment point. The mixture is then pumped into the desert sand using pipes. She explained that many layers of the mixture result in the formation of topsoil.

Agricultural practices such as agroforestry system help in land preservation. The project advocates for planting both crops and trees instead of trees alone. The initiative will help in food production and environmental conservation measures. The UN report indicated that more than 12 million arable lands are lost yearly. The main contributors comprise of climatic change, overgrazing, and degradation among other factors.

Several Environmental projects in Africa aim at curbing desertification through planting trees. A good example is the Great Green Wall initiative in Africa. Many scientists all over the world are busy developing ways of curbing desertification. Some of them include “nano-clay” and paste innovation in Norway and China respectively.

Besides land reclamation, the startup is also establishing an AI-powered prototype. The initiative will help in determining the most affected dams. The CEO concluded that the startup helps in creating arable land and protection of water sources.

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Written by Denis Opudo

Am an engineer who's a tech blogger, hit me up on and we base our discussion on technology in Africa and the rest of the world.
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