By John Jordan
The Russian war against Ukraine has led to fertilizer prices increases. In Nepal, this and other factors have resulted in difficulty obtaining and affording chemical fertilizer.
The good news: Many family farmers are insulated from shortages and high costs through the use of organic fertilizers and pesticides. These include Effective Microorganisms (EM).
EM is a term for a probiotic-filled liquid created by Teruo Higa, a Japanese horticulturist who experimented with effective mixes of different microorganisms in the 1970s. EM is a mix of dozens of of microorganisms and other organic ingredients that accelerates the decomposition of organic material, including compost. The breaking down of organic material and fixing nitrogen from the air into the soil improves soil health and can help increase output. EM also acts as a natural insect repellant, reducing or eliminating the need for chemical pesticides.
In Nepali villages, farmers are producing and applying EM 2 to fruit and vegetable gardens. EM 2 is EM with a few additional ingredients to increase effectiveness. Used in combination with vermicompost made from kitchen waste, and animal manure, farmers have a steady supply of virtually no-cost organic fertilizer.
Organic farm inputs are not only better for the soil and the overall environment. They help protect family farmers from swings in fertilizer and pesticide prices. This enables continued output that can be sold at reasonable prices and still return a healthy profit. This enhances economic security for farmers and food security for farmers and those to whom they sell surplus output.
World Neighbors is the development organization that works with local partners to train farmers to produce and apply EM 2 and other organic inputs. Please contact me to learn more.