Natural Pesticides & Fertilizers
Participants work with SHI Field Trainers to find alternatives to harmful and expensive chemical pesticides. Farmers have found that by mixing such natural ingredients as hot peppers, cow urine, garlic and soap - they are able to create powerful, yet nontoxic, homemade pest-control concoctions. By using these inexpensive homemade alternatives, farmers are saving money. More importantly, they are not exposing their families to dangerous chemicals.
Teaching natural alternatives to potentially harmful and expensive chemical fertilizers is just one of the ways that SHI is helping families in Central America reduce costs while increasing yields. By making use of readily available materials like manure, hot peppers, garlic and common household products like soap, farmers are reducing costs and eliminating the hazards that accompany chemical agriculture. Not having chemicals around the home also helps to eliminate the risk of accidental ingestion, skin burns and possible contamination of water sources.
Many of the farmers where SHI works lack adequate storage facilities for the chemicals they use. SHI staff members have witnessed plastic soda bottles filled with liquid chemical fertilizers haphazardly laying around the home, accessible to children who may think they’re getting a sweet treat.
Controlling unwanted and destructive pests is vital to healthy, productive crops. Some of the natural pest-control techniques taught by SHI’s field staff include cover cropping, mulching, crop rotation and natural insect barriers. Cover cropping, mulching and the utilization of compost helps to build the soil from the ground up, resulting in healthier, stronger and more resilient crops. Rotating where crops are planted helps to prevent nutrient depletion and makes plants less susceptible to diseases in the soil.
One of the more creative approaches to pest control involves the use of natural borders. The technique is cleverly simple: A farmer plants a border of a prolific, less valuable crop around a planting of the crop intended for protection. While the pest is merrily making its way to do some serious damage, it is distracted by the strategically planted border crop. Border crops are chosen based on the preferences of the problem pest, and in many cases can also be harvested for consumption, depending on the extent of the damage.
One example that an SHI participant has used was planting a border of mustard around highly vulnerable lettuce. While the mustard got munched, the lettuce was spared! By using a variety of integrated pest management techniques, SHI participants are increasing their yields, improving the health of the soil and saving money and time that would otherwise be spent procuring less effective, potentially harmful chemicals. With materials that are readily available, SHI families are increasing their independence and increasing the sustainability of their farms.
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Offering a Natural Alternative
SHI-Panama began working with Mr. Roberto Arauz in February. He lives with his wife, who is pregnant and with whom he has seven children: four in school, two younger ones at home, and one adult that could not complete school due to lack of money. His home in Tranquilla Centro is made of thatch and only has one 600 sq. foot room and a kitchen. We were immediately struck by his story of poverty and health problems due to chemical…Read more...
Panama Program Update - Spring 2010
Even though it is our smallest program, SHI-Panama has established itself in the Cocle region of Panama as a preeminent organization working on sustainable rural development. Partnering with local universities and NGOs, Peace Corps Panama and government agencies such as the Panamanian EPA, SHI-Panama has been pivotal in disseminating appropriate technologies, like wood-conserving stoves, and providing training in the core principles of sustainable small-scale farming. By embracing new ideas, SHI-Panama is altering the face of sustainable agriculture, local markets and…Read more...
A Nicaraguan Cacao Farmer Embraces Natural Fertilizers
My name is Valentin and I am 55 years old. In the early 1980s when Nicaragua was at war, I was dispossessed of all my belongings and had to travel to neighboring Costa Rica to live until there was a regime change later in the decade. I returned to Nicaragua and now my wife, Inés, and I have lived in the Posa Azul community in Kukra River for the last 17 years.Read more...
Leaving the Legacy of a Healthy Environment
We want to share with you the story of another inspiring SHI participant, Sr. Marcial Urbina: At a young age, Marcial Urbina moved away from his hometown in the Boaco region of Nicaragua to look for work in the banana plantations and in the extraction of rubber. By working hard as a laborer in these industries, he was able to buy a bit of land in the community of La Pichinga. He dreamed of having a dignified life with his…Read more...
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