In a challenge and response scenario, Malawian farmers are working towards alternatives to the use of organic fertilizers in their crop production endeavors. This is in the wake of the steep rise in the prices of fertilizers prices on the market.
However, as one way of making sure that farmers are still accessing cheaper fertilizer, an agricultural enterprise called Phindu Agri Solutions has taken a new step in manufacturing organic fertilizer called Phindu Biofix Organic Fertilizer which is cheap and easily accessible by farmers.
In an interview, Founder and Managing Director of Phindu Agri Solutions Willington Chatepa said he pioneered the establishment of the enterprise with the objective of providing an alternative to the traditional methods of managing soil fertility in Malawi as well as the fertilizer prices hike.
He said Phindu Biofix is an organic fertilizer that is processed from organic raw materials such as composted poultry feacal droppings blended with nitrogen-rich greens like leauchaena and a small dose of Agricultural lime.
“The Biofix organic fertilizer is locally made fertilizer from the mixture of Agricultural lime and composted poultry droppings. The lime added is meant to regulate the product’s PH,” explained Chatepa.
Chatepa further said although inorganic fertilizers seem to be indispensable in Malawi, they are not as beneficial as most people perceive them to be.
He said apart from the price element, research has shown that perpetual use of inorganic fertilizers degrade the soil to a state where the farmer will be hooked to fertilizer use for eternity.
“Plants being organisms, depend so much on the soil ecosystems to sustain themselves. The ecosystem includes friendly micro-organisms, earthworms, and others that live symbolically with planted crops. As for chemicals, organic fertilizers only come in to eliminate that life, making the plant totally dependant on the chemical fertilizers and their toxic elements,” said Chatepa.
Chatepa said another importance of organic fertilizer is that it improves soil properties such as moisture retention capacity, nutrient balance, efficiency on controlling pathogens and weeds like sativa asiatica known as witchweed or Kaufiti.
He said the nutritional balance found in organic fertilizer is also responsible for fruit vegetable farming such as garlic, onion, leafy vegetables, tomato, coffee, banana, and all others. He said in Western countries, Organic Fertilizers are highly priced as compared to inorganic fertilizers because of their value and harmony with the environment for a healthier planet.
“We are aware that we have few other producers of organic fertilizers in Malawi. This is a healthy development. My advice to our colleagues is that we should not conduct ourselves as competitors but as a team of well-meaning Malawians who must bring change to farming as a business. Although our organic fertilizers are low priced, we would like to draw the government’s attention to consider including organic fertilizers in its distribution plans to farmers in projects such as that of Affordable Inputs Program ( AIP),” said Chatepa.
Chatepa said as part of sensitizing farmers on the importance of using their organic fertilizer, they are conducting several interface meetings with the rural communities in the districts of Zomba, Phalombe, Thyolo, Mulanje and Chiladzuru.
“We have so far reached out to farmers in Zomba, Chiladzuru, Phalombe, Thyolo, and other northern region districts so as to sensitize them on how important our organic fertilizer is to their crops. It is very interesting to see how popular Phindu Biofix organic fertilizer has become within a short period of time,” he said.
He said their future plans are to reach out to more farmers so as they should be aware of Phindu Biofix Organic Fertilizer. He said as a company, that they are very grateful for the cooperation they have received from the government officers in the area reached for sensitization messages saying it is an indication that they are doing a great job.
“We are very grateful for the cooperation we are receiving from government officers in areas we are reaching out for sensitization. This means we are doing a great job to the nation at large,” said Chatepa.
Currently, a 50 Kilogram (kg) bag of Phindu Biofix Organic Fertilizer is at K8,000 and found in two outlets, Njuli near quarry and Farm Rite in Luwinga, Mzuzu.