Zuka - As Nature Intended! Organic food production through sustainable waste disposal.

Zuka is a 2in1 liquid organic pest repellent and nutrient, for crop production in soil and hydroponics.

Photo of Sizwe Mnamatha
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Phumelela Solutions CC

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $10k - $50k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 1 - 10

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • South Africa

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

South Africa Eastern Cape Uitenhage KwaNobuhle



Facebook URL


Twitter URL


Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

People in my community Ncorha, no longer plant their own vegetables. They have no access to affordable clean pesticides and fertilizers. I have seen news reports of people who find food in rubbish bins and waste dumping sites around South Africa. Reports from Stats-SA say our people are becoming food insecure. In addition, our waste disposal methods pollute the air, underground water systems and the environment. These places serve as a breeding ground for environmental health risks associated with rodents.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

We established a waste to agri-inputs production site in kwa-Nobuhle. Earthworms, called Red Wriggler worms, are farmed artificially in containers in a workshop. Uncooked vegetable and fruit waste from fresh produce market is fed to the worms. The worms eat the waste and give off their nutrient rich excrement, a dark brown liquid and solid. This excrement is harvested, packed and sold to farmers for use in their gardens. Zuka has insect repellent and fertilizer properties in 1 product. Food waste taken to disposal sites creates pollution of the air, underground water systems and is a breeding ground for pests who bring environmental health risks. We have seen reports of people who scavenge for food in dump sites that may be poisonous. The Zuka system presents an alternative sustainable solution for food waste disposal. The production of Zuka soil nutrients locally, has improved access to Agriculture inputs that are affordable and organic. Zuka reduces water needed for irrigation.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

We have collected and diverted 3 800 kg of waste from landfill to our pilot Zuka facility. The facility has grown from 5 worm factories in January to 12 in August. 2 youths have been trained in the process of vermi-composting. Makana Municipality bought 200 Liters of Zuka for their food security project in Joza. Miss Vuyokazi Matshaya, an Agronomist at Agriculture Department bought 20 Liters for her pilot studies, looking at viability of our product for crop production. We are supplying Mr Mbila and Mrs Zonke with Zuka to use on their vegetable gardens as pilot.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

I invested R30 000 of my own money in the business. I have won competitions to finance initial growth the business. These competitions were: GIBS Festival of Ideas, GAP Green Award, Transnet Moving Ideas. I have received grant funding from: GCIP/TIA/UNIDO, Northeastern University, Agriculture Department We are willing to give away a stake in the business for investors to contribute, not only their funds, but their networks and skills.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Zuka is specific and effective for each pest that cause damage to crops. Zuka is produced sourcing and mixing local indigenous natural product that give the desired pest repellent characteristic. Zuka is specific for each crop needs to encourage high nutritional value.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

I was returning from a 2 day trip to The Innovation Hub in Pretoria. I went to inspect the factories and found that some of them were colonized by ants. I was confused and curious as to why there ants were in some not all the factories. On close inspection, I found that the factories that ha no ants had coffee grounds in them, and the others did not. I went collected coffee grounds from their bins and poured it in all the factories. Almost immediately, the ants went away from the farm. That was when I found that coffee in a natural pest repellent. I also discovered that subsistence farmers faced crop failure due to mainly pests than lack of nutrients in the soil. We have found other local plants that have in the past been used by our people as pest repellent. Among these are umhlonyane, igcukuma and uthuthu. We have approached the Fort Hare University for assistance and research.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Social media


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Great idea. Are you working alone in this project?

Photo of Sizwe Mnamatha

Thank you Sir. I have 5 mentors that are guiding me on business and product developmemt, Dr Martin Maboko, Dr Murunwa Makwarela, Mr Ayanda Ntsho and Prof Pearson Mnkemi. Mr Thulani Wosho assists me in the day to day running.

Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Thank you. Good luck and go ahead.

Photo of Sizwe Mnamatha

Thank you very much Sir. All the best to you too.

Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

You are welcome. It's me who thanks.

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