Farmers under various cooperatives in the districts of Phalombe and Zomba expect a bumper yield this year having applied Mbeya fertilizer in their fields.
Mbeya fertilizer which is almost organic is made by mixing ashes, dung or any animal excretes urine for Urea and maize bran.
According to Dinel Moses, Chairperson of jenera cooperative in Zomba ever since he started farming, he has been applying chemical fertilizer.
But due to exorbitant prices of the chemical fertilizer, he could not manage to buy the required 8 bags for his two and half hectare land.
“Even when I got coupons, it was hard for me to manage my field and the harvest was less than what I required for my family. This was a real challenge for me,” explained Moses.
This year Moses expects to harvest 100 bags of maize which is a sharp increase from the 20 bags he used to make from the same farm.
The increased harvest according to Moses is as a result of the training he attended organised by Cooperative Enterprise Pathways or Economic and Environmental Sustainability in Malawi Project (CEPEESM) on manure making.
“Late last year, staff from CEPEESM an organization that works with cooperatives in Malawi trained us on how to make Mbeya fertilizer. The method is simple, they told us that if we are, for instance, make Urea fertilizer we will need to mix 10kgs of ashes, 20kgs dung of any animal excretes, 20kgs of maize bran, 5liters of water, 5 litres of urine or 5kgs of urea chemical and the same method for NPK,” Moses explained.
He added, “Despite that I was so doubtful of the method but due to financial crisis I thought of giving it a try and today I am a proud farmer.”
Mercy Mbalale 72, of Chitekesa dairy cooperative concurred with Moses saying she expects to have over 65 bags of maize this year which is a huge difference from the previous harvests.
Mbalale who keeps 7 grandchildren who are orphans said she had always had challenges to buy fertilizer as she has no source of income.
Luckily, Mbalale is a member of Jenera cooperative and attended the manure making training which today, has transformed her life.
“I used to admire my friends who received coupons but today I am better than them. I can make Mbeya fertilizer on my own and in any quantities I want and my field s have done much better than theirs,” she said.
Instead of buying 4 bags of chemical fertilizer which could have cost her over MK100, 000 Mbalale only spent Mk20, 000 to make mbeya fertilizer.
Unlike chemical fertilizer, Mbeya organic fertilizer is believed to be powerful and keeps moisture in times of droughts or erratic rains.
Traditional Authority (TA) Mbiza of Zomba who is also Member of Jenera cooperative said in most of the fields where farmers had applied Mbeya fertilizer the grain was green and promising.
“I am very happy and I can confidently say that some of my people particularly those under cooperatives will have a bumper yield this year due to Mbeya Fertilizer.
“One good thing about this fertilizer is that it is cheap to make as we have the materials required within our homes,” said the Chief.
He assured that his major role from this year will be to encourage everyone in the area to embrace the fertilizers making techniques.
“I will not allow my people to suffer or cry for chemical fertilizer since we can make our own fertilizer within our vicinities,” he said.
John Mulangeni, Executive Director of Cooperative Enterprise Pathways or Economic and Environmental Sustainability in Malawi Project (CEPEESPM) said realising that most of cooperative members could not manage to buy chemical fertilizer they decided as organisation to look for means that would bail out farmers.
Mulangeni said part of their project focuses on empowering cooperative members economically and one of the ways is by imparting knowledge and skills to members and relatively reduce their expenditures.
“We knew it was becoming hard for cooperative members to purchase chemical fertilizer and we are sure that many will now utilize the skill.
“It should be clarified that one of the biggest advantage of Mbeya fertilizer is that it is cheap, keeps moisture and easily accessed,” said Mulangeni.
Devring Hankey, Assistant Extension Development officer for Zaone EPA, confirmed of bumper yield by farmers who applied Mbeya organic fertilizer in their fields.
Malawi as a country expects a 36 percent rise in maize harvest compared to last year.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :