SMALL-SCALE farmers are still the backbone of agricultural production in Africa. Some 80 per cent of rural African people depend on smallholder agriculture to improve their livelihood.
Agricultural quality and productivity has remained largely low due to bad farming practices that have damaged the health and fertility of Africa’s soil. With little access to organic fertilisers, farmers are forced to bring less fertile soils into production at the expense of Africa’s wildlife and natural vegetation such as forests.
The Mountain Microorganisms (MM) Technology is a technique that uses forest/mountain microorganisms (FM or MM) to make quality organic liquid and solid fertilisers from organic waste or residual materials found around the farms. The MM technology teaches farmers to be independent by identifying the best location to ‘harvest or collect’ the MM and reproduce them.
The MM are obtained from natural forests and are reproduced locally by the farmers using available inputs. The MM are then used in the preparation of quality organic fertilisers.
The mountain microorganisms hasten the process of fermenting the organic materials and they become ready for application in the shortest period possible, that is, less than one month. The application of these different types of organic fertilisers plays a vital role in the restoration of depleted soils, rebuilding its health and nutrition status hence improving crop productivity and quality.
By applying these organic fertilisers crop production and product quality of organic farmers in Africa are expected to increase and this will attract better markets and hence improve their household incomes.
A pilot project was set up in 2010, supported by the Progreso Program, to validate the technology in Uganda among organised producers engaged in coffee and cocoa production. The pilot project aimed at developing and validating the technology to introduce into Eastern Africa. Field officers and lead farmers within these participating producer organisations were trained and farmer-friendly literature was developed.
There is an increasing adoption of the MM technology among small-scale farmers and this trend is predicted to grow. The MM technology is now widely used by small-scale farmers in Latin and South American countries such as Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and many others.