Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Manure usage an alternative to increase crop production

The initiative by ADRA Malawi, LEFAM Project to form farmers clubs in 2007 was very much welcomed in the communities. Having groups receive farm inputs that included, fertilizer and seeds, brought smiles to the farmer club members as well as the communities. Apart from farm inputs, farmers were trained on manure making as an alternative for fertilizer. They were also mandated to share seeds to a new club that would be formed in the second year. Two years down the line, this initiative has demonstrated that food security can be achieved.

Despite some hindrances like erratic rains, pests and diseases, farmers were determined to share what they had harvested, as per agreed during the establishment of the clubs, with the new farmer’s clubs that were formed. Sharing of seed meant more people having access to good and reliable seed.

The farmers applauded the partnership they have with ADRA because they have come to realize that they would benefit tremendously; through knowledge and skills thereby improving household food levels.

However, negative attitude on effectiveness of manure from most farmers proved a challenge for ADRA. Most farmers felt that fertilizer is the only source of fertility for the soil. While this was the case, ADRA would not provide fertilizer to the second set of farmers and others who might have joined the clubs. Farmers felt farming without fertilizer is as bad as not cultivating at all because at the end of the day they would not yield anything tangible.

But this was a battle that had to be won. And it had to be won by making communities aware that manure not only enhances soils fertility, but it is cheaper and can be accessible locally at any given point.

Of course it took some muscle to help the communities understand the impact of depending on fertilizer as soils are destroyed and the product is becoming expensive on the world market so much that it would be difficult for communities to afford, hence, they should start using manure now than later. Two years down the line farmers appreciate the importance of manure and many, even those not in farm club, are making manure.

Author: C. Madikiza-Madumuse
Project Communications Officer

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