Tea farmers in Thyolo district are planning to open up an organic fertilizer making factory this year having successfully run test studies.
Wilfred Kastom, Chairperson of Mtendere Tea Cooperative said, once the factory is established, it will among others reduce cost that farmers incurred when buying chemical fertilizer while at the same time improve their agricultural produce.
Kastom who leads a 301 members group said despite that there is a lot to be done before the factory is fully established; they are confident that many people will like their fertilizer and Malawi as a country stand a chance to benefit.
“We learnt about the skill from Cooperative Enterprise Pathways for Economic and Environmental Sustainability in Malawi Project (CEPEESM) an organisation that works with cooperatives in the country. Despite that we haven’t started, we are sure that a lot of farmers will be able to buy our fertilizer once on the market as the fertilizer will be offered at a cheaper price compared to the chemical one which is imported from outside countries.
“After establishing the fertilizer making factory, we will share the skills to every willing Malawian farmer and by that we hope to reduce the need for fertilizer and cut down government’s cost on fertilizer,” explained Kastom.
The fertilizer to be labeled Mbeya Organic Fertilizer is made by mixing 10kg of ashes, 20kg dung, and 20kg of maize bran and 5liters of water. But to finish the process, 5 kg of Urea or NPK is added to come up with the two different types of fertilizers.
Kastom said the good thing about Mbeya fertilizer is that required materials are found within the localities. In addition, the fertilizer is powerful and keeps moisture in times of droughts.
“We will have to organise ourselves for us to meet the market demand,” he said.
This year, Members of Mtendere Cooperative tried to apply Mbeya fertilizer in their farms as a case study and the results are believed to be tremendous.
Ralph Binya, member of the cooperative applied Mbeya organic fertilizer in his tea farm and he said the yield was promising.
“I have a 0.5 hectare of tea and I applied only 2 bags of Mbeya fertilizer. As of January, I have managed to harvest over 825kilogrames of tea compared to the last year’s 440 Kilograms and the crop is of better quality,” he said.
Due to improved quality of his tea, Binya said tea factories have since started shunning buying his tea thinking he has stolen from nearby estates.
“My tea is the best quality and heavy when put on the scale and I am not amused as to why the tea factories are refusing to buy my tea. My appeal to farmers in Malawi is that they must not bother with chemical fertilizer as with Mbeya organic fertilizer there is hope,” he said.
John Mulangeni Project Manager for CEPEESM said closing the gaps that farmers were faced with in their farming business and empowering them with various skills was one of the prime focus of the project.
Mulangeni said another component of their project was environmental sustainability and waste management where he said the manure making skills and training were delivering from.
“We are funded by the Scottish government and in Malawi we work with other partners who get their funding from the Scottish government. It was during one of our gathering where we learn about manure making and then we thought of sharing with our cooperatives,” he said.
Mulangeni said the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and water Development already gave a nod to the fertilizer as extension workers in various EPA are involved in training farmers.
He then applauded Mtendere cooperative for their innovative plans.
“When we have taught people something we expect them to embrace ideas, change their way of doing things,” explained Mulangeni.
Mtendere cooperative expect to sale its Mbeya fertilizer at MK 12,000 per every 50 kg bag which is relatively low compared to mk22, 000 price of chemical fertilizer.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :