Andrew Likowa chops grass he will use as a natural fertilizer

Andrew Likowa is a farmer in Nchisi district, Malawi. He is shielding his six children from hunger and beating dependence on big business – by going organic with Progressio’s help.

He and 40 of his neighbours are no longer using high-priced chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides and racking up big debts. Progressio’s development worker, Innocent Ogaba, has taught them how to make their own fertiliser using manure and other waste, grow legumes to turn into natural fertilizer and turn weeds into compost, ending their reliance on chemicals.

“I have recently started farming organically,” he says, “I have been going for one year now. I am now harvesting a lot of crops. Last year I got 8 bags when using chemical fertilisers but this year I got 15 bags. When we were using fertiliser we could not afford the right amount but with our own compost that we make we are able to use just what the crops need.”

Rather than using chemical pesticides, the local farmers are using alternative methods. “We pound a particular plant and soak it in water, then squeeze out the water and put into a sprayer. It chases away grasshoppers.”

It’s very different from before. “When I used to use chemical pesticides they used to be expensive and they created side effects such as skin cancers. I used to get sores on my skin after using them.”

Andrew is pictured chopping grass that he will use as a natural fertiliser for his crops. He says, “When selling in the market I am able to charge more because my produce is now organic. People want that so they can fetch almost double the price they used to.”

Photo credit: Marcus Perkins/Progressio