Bocashi (from the Japanese bokashi) is a highly effective natural fertilizer made from microbial cultures. Throughout Central America, SHI participants are taking the concept of bocashi and reinventing it in order to create a similar fertilizer using local resources.
Though there are many different techniques to making bocashi, SHI participants have developed a simple recipe that works well for them and requires only materials that are readily available. Manure, coffee pulp or rice hulls, yeast and molasses are mixed with healthy soil. The yeast becomes active when it comes in contact with the molasses and the fermentation process begins. Typically the fermentation and decomposition process will require a 15 day period. Each morning and night, the participant will mix the bocashi in order or prevent excessive heat. At the end of the 15-day fermentation period, the bocashi is ready to use and or store.
In addition to bocashi, SHI participants have recently been working to develop their own version of Efficient Mountain Microorganisms, or Beneficial Indigenous Microorganisms (BIM). Similar to bocashi, EMM contains valuable microbial cultures, yet is used primarily to regenerate soils and their beneficial microorganisms. The locally made EMM being used by farmers entails mixing properly decomposed organic matter and soil from wooded areas with rice polish, molasses, and water. If rice polish is not accessible, then farmers use cooked white rice or a similar carbohydrate to attract once invisible microbes, and later mix it with water, molasses and soil. After a few weeks of brewing, participants will have a valuable soil conditioner and composter.
"I am very grateful for the support that SHI has given me. As an experiment, I started with about ½ an acre using the organic techniques that Jacobo Suazo [the local SHI extensionist] taught me. This land produced 3,000 lbs of corn! It is incredible but true! Now, after seeing such wonderful results, we are growing an additional acre of corn. We are using organic bocashi compost which I have learned to make myself. I would like to start my own small business making bocashi, but people still don't believe the results until they witness them. I don"t have to worry about the rising prices of chemical fertilizers because I know how to make my own natural ones.”
- Ramon Salguero, SHI-Honduras Participant Farmer
How can you help? Give a Plant a Family Garden Gift of Hope to your friends and family!
PHOTOS: (above, left) Panama Field Trainer Diomedes describes how Efficient Mountain Microorganisms work (above, right) EMM extracts are bottled for use in El Entradero, Anton, Panama
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