ENTREPRENEUR Bokang Matsipa has ventured into production of organic manure using earthworms to restore the natural quality of soil while saving farmers a fortune on fertilisers.
Vermiculture, as the process of producing organic manure is called, is believed to possess the ability to reverse the harmful effects of using chemical fertilisers on the soil.
Vermicompost, which is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by earthworms contains water-soluble nutrients and is an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertiliser and soil conditioner.
According to Mr Matsipa, who is renowned for being the pioneer of medical cannabis production in Lesotho, he currently has several production facilities in Lithabaneng, Maseru and Qacha’s Nek through assistance of experts from outside the country. He said usage of this organic manure will also improve the general health status of the population.
He said that he believes food produced using chemical fertilisers is not completely safe for human consumption and various ailments can be attributed to such foods.
“I believe that the rate at which our people fall ill can be significantly reduced once we start eating foods produced from this method,” Mr Matsipa said.
“You may observe that it is becoming increasingly expensive to buy organic foods hence it is mostly the rich who afford such prices.
“My studies have revealed that we are generally an unhealthy people due to the food that we eat, which has been produced using chemical fertilisers.
“That is why I believe this project will have a significant in improving the quality of our soil and also in improving our health.”
He also said he believes that the government should stop wasting its estimated M50 million on fertiliser subsidy each for the summer cropping season.
“We need to change the quality of the soil that we have so that it can produce healthy and nutritious crops for our consumption. We need to restore that quality which was destroyed by usage of chemical fertilisers.”
To produce the compost manure, he uses mostly household garbage, cannabis leaves and stems that is exposed to the earthworms. He said he imports the special earthworms from several countries such as Spain, Israel, Zimbabwe, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
He further said the fact that the cannabis plant can be used in making organic manure could be a significant opportunity for local producers of cannabis as organic manure production can be a secure market for their crops.
“I see a big opportunity here for cannabis farmers because they will have a secure market while producers of the organic manure will also have a reliable supply of this crops which itself has medicinal properties.”
To roll out the project to the rest of the country, Mr Matsipa hopes to train farmers on how to produce the manure for both personal use and reselling.
The earthworms eat this waste to produce excreta that is used as manure.
He has already helped a number of farmers to set up production facilities in Maseru and Thaba Tseka, with Quthing and Mohale’s Hoek following next.
He said he is in talks with the Ministry of Agriculture to see how the project can be expanded to reach many parts of the country.
“The idea is to have the project piloted in the farmers training centres to assess its viability, so that a decision on its further development cane assessed,” Mr Matsipa said.