Cold composts emancipate farmer

Cold composts emancipate farmer

Kefasi Tafirenyika (54), from Wayerera village in Bindura District has been practicing agroecology for the past 5 years. Kefasi says using organic composts has helped him rejuvenate the soils in his field which has helped him take better care of his family because it has boosted his market gardening sales owing to improved crop productivity. Photo: Collins Chirinda/PELUM Zimbabwe.

Kefasi Tafirenyika (54), a small-scale farmer from Wayerera Village in Bindura district says turning to cold compost has set him free from bondage to the conventional farming system. 

He says years of using synthetic fertilisers damaged his soils to a point where his one-hectare plot could barely support his family’s nutritional needs. 

Stranded in a vicious cycle where in order to harvest anything he had no choice but to keep applying the same synthetic fertilisers which were damaging his soils, Kefasi was desperate. 

“I used to rely heavily on synthetic fertilisers which cost me more money and damaged my soil to the extent that my soil could no longer sustain or produce any meaningful harvests. Year after year I had to buy more and more fertilisers,” says Kefasi.

Kefasi says he became helpless as he struggled to balance between finding money for his family’s basic needs and trying to buy inputs for farming. 

I felt helpless and hopeless. I had to balance between buying more inputs for my fields and providing for my family,” says Kefasi.  

However, as luck would have it, Kefasi found himself in Agroecology trainings which were being conducted by PELUM Zimbabwe member, Farmers Association of Community self-Help Investments Groups (FACHIG) in Bindura.  

The trainings focused on making cold composts to rejuvenate soil health, the very thing  Kefasi needed.

Five years ago I started attending trainings on soil fertility management from FACHIG. The fertility of my soil had been bad because of years and years of industrial agriculture and use of synthetic chemicals which is why I started using cold compost manures in order to rejuvenate my crop fields,” says Kefasi. 

Kefasi says following the training he immediately dropped synthetic fertilisers and began applying cold compost to his plot.

“After adopting cold composts, my agricultural output has improved. I now produce sufficient food for my family and I’m able to sell excess produce. The quality of my soil has also improved,” he says. 

“I use all organic matter from my field to make these cold composts. All vegetation, and residue from my fields are composted in pits that I dig in this field. After two weeks, the composts will have matured and I then use the manure from the composts to feed my crops,” adds Kefasi

Kefasi also says producing his crops using cold compost has helped him diversify his market gardening which has helped him improve his family’s nutrition and income. 

“Currently I have tomatoes, peas, green beans and some sweet potatoes which I am growing using organic manure. My tomato plants are close to harvesting and I estimate that I will get at least one dollar per plant per week out of the 800 plants that I have currently,” he says. 

Kefasi says managing the soil fertility of his depleted soils has helped him achieve food self-sufficiency from his market gardening. 

Sethukile Dube (53) an Agricultural Technical Extension (AGRITEX) Officer says using organic fertiliser is beneficial to small-scale farmers who might be struggling with the fertility of their soils. 

Using organic fertilisers has many benefits for farmers. It can be a cost cutting measure as well as a mechanism for managing the health of the soil as well as improve crop productivity,” says Sethukile. 
“I encourage all farmers to adopt using organic fertilisers as this helps in restoring soil health,” adds Amina Chiwocha (45) another small-scale farmer from Chingwaru village in Bindura.


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