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Input value chain/Zimbabwe - Earthworms helping smallholders increase crop yields

19 October 2015

A project in Zimbabwe is promoting the use of earthworms to enable the country's small-scale farmers improve soil fertility and boost crop yields. The earthworms eat organic wastes and their faeces are more potent than ordinary compost used to improve soil fertility, according to the chief Executive Officer of Zim Earthworm Farms (ZEF). Earthworms vermicompost is rich in NKP (nitrogen 2-3%, potassium 1.85-2.25% and phosphorus 1.55-2.25%), micronutrients, beneficial soil microbes and also contain plant growth hormones & enzymes. The campaign has already trained 100 farmers at a no cost on how to use earthworm technology. After the training, smallholder farmer are issued with 60 grams of earthworm fertilizer to help breed. According to ZEF’s experts, increased soil degradation and soil infertility have led to the massive drop in food production in the country, thus requiring interventions to boost agriculture through soil conservation technologies. Moreover, earthworm technology is cost-effective and affordable to smallholder farmers and can alleviate poverty, ZEF’s experts disclosed. According to the Acting Head of Chemistry and Soils Research Institute from the Ministry of Agriculture, earthworms technology is economically viable, sustainable and socially acceptable. Every household has waste from animals, food waste and field waste, which if composted and inoculated with earthworms, can be converted into rich bio-fertilizer. Earthworms degrade wastes faster than conventional systems, while organic farming can help improve soil structure and unlike chemical fertilizer, nevertheless organic manure is not prone to nutrient losses through leeching.



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