By Simeon S. Wiakanty
The majority of farmers in Liberia lack knowledge in organic farming. Local farmers generally practice subsistence farming.
Recently, an agriculture expert told the Daily Observer why local farmers should adopt organic farming technology to enhance crop production. Mr. Ivar Hennes is the Managing Director of Organic Matters in Liberia. His company is primarily engaged in the production of organic fertilizer which is supplied to farmers. We posed some questions to Mr. Hennes to learn more about this type of farming and the production of the kind of fertilizer that sustains it:
Why is organic compost production important?
Organic compost adds more value to the soil by giving a high quantity and quality of nutrients to the soil to make plants or crops grow well. It is also important to know that these natural composts have no bad effects as they make crops yield good results.
Farmers are our major focus in Liberia so we want them to adopt organic farming to increase productivity. Using organic fertilizers to produce crops can reduce the cost of buying chemical fertilizers. It also boosts the income of farmers as food consumers are attracted to organic products.
How do you develop these products?
Well, developing organic composts means finding the materials such as dead plants and worms mixed in the soil and allowing them to decay. I have to trap worms myself, about one hundred thousand of them. It took me six months to trap two hundred thousand worms. I first started with 56, and today I have a lot.
How long does it take for compost to mature before use?
When a compost is prepared, it takes roughly a month to mature for application on the crops.
What is Organic Matters about?
Organic Matters is a company in Liberia involved in the development of organic fertilizer. It was established in 2012 with the aim of producing natural compost for farmers. We add value to the soil through our naturally produced compost. We also teach local farmers how to use these products.
How many worms are you operating with currently?
We are currently operating with at least 14 million worms and now we can produce more. We use different worm species to make these composts. We feed them with some decayed fruits, adding water as mixture to make the soil soft and rich.
Where do you get support?
It is my own company. I run it based on the funding generated. I learned about organic compost production when I was living abroad. But I came to Liberia to introduce it to Liberian farmers.
How many young people has your company employed?
We have employed up to forty young people, most of whom are local farmers. We do not only employ them, we also create an avenue for training. We are currently trying to extend our operations to other parts of the country, beginning with Montserrado and Margibi counties.
Who are some of your costumers in Liberia?
One of my private costumers is Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Also there is the Minister of Agriculture. We also have a few local farmers that put in for our products.
What are your expectations for the next five years?
Our expectation for the next five years is to increase our work force, improve the hard labor system and to see local Liberian farmers producing their own compost as well as knowing the usage and importance of doing so. We want to see more farmers engaged in organic farming, which we think is paramount to the farming system in Liberia.
Edited by: Judoemue Kollie