Friday, February 6, 2009

Malawi strikes organic gold

Poverty and penury often push people in Africa into innovation. So it was with Jailos Kanyanga. The story began when government agents arrived at Mr Kanyanga's compound in this central region of Malawi, and demanded that he immediately repay money he owed under a fertiliser credit scheme – with "no further excuses".

The sum involved was 3,750 kwacha (about £17) – an amount that it was unimaginable the poor subsistence farmer would have to hand. If he couldn't pay, the agents said, they would seize his 11 pigs – livestock Mr Kanyanga saw as ensuring the survival of his family of eight. He was lucky. The local pastor lent him the money. But it was then that Mr Kanyanga resolved he could not allow himself to fall into such peril again.

"I decided the only way out was to resort to the methods of growing crops using the composts that we were taught in the old days, when we didn't know fertilisers," he says. He gave up expensive chemicals and went back to the organic ways of his father and grandfather.


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