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Innovations for Sustainable Farming

Posted On: April 21, 2023

EWS-KT farmers are an inventive bunch! On this UN World Creativity and Innovation Day, we celebrate the creativity of the farmers we work with.

Through their innovations, they are sharing new, sustainable ways to farm.

India: Integrated Pest Management

Instead of buying ready-made insect traps, Mithun Das, an EWS-KT farmer in Odisha state, India, makes his own fruit fly traps out of recyclable materials. Reusing plastic containers, he cuts holes in the sides so the fruit flies can enter.

Inside each container, he suspends a sticky trap product that simulates a scent secreted by female fruit flies to attract their male counterparts. The result is an inexpensive but effective approach to crop protection.

As part of integrated pest management (IPM), this method contributes to the reduction of the pest population without relying on insecticides—a plus for both farmer safety and food safety.

Nigeria: Onion Storage Solution

In northern Nigeria, EWS-KT farmer Musa Manya is a trendsetter. At the time of Musa’s onion harvest, the price for onions in the market was very low. So he constructed an innovative onion storage bin using locally available materials.

With his storage solution, he was able to securely cure his onions for well over a year. He then sold them for triple the initial price.

Musa’s storage bin, constructed with sorghum stalks and thatch grass, was a very successful invention, and other farmers in his community have taken notice. Seeing the benefits he has gained from this innovation, they are following his lead and building their own.

Bangladesh: Mulching with What’s on Hand

Mulch benefits crops by keeping the soil moist and inhibiting weeds, but it can be expensive. In the Noakhali district of Bangladesh, smallholder farmer Nazma Begum has found an unusual solution.

Nazma learned from EWS-KT for two seasons as a key farmer, and now she follows EWS-KT improved techniques on her own. To reduce her costs, Nazma does not use plastic mulch. At first she tried mung bean shell and a small amount of rice straw on her field. Unfortunately, this organic mulch washed away in the rainy season.

Undeterred, Nazma thought about more durable materials she could use as mulch. She decided to try coconut branches, since they are readily available at her house. With this new mulch on her field, she has been happy with the results. Coconut branches, she discovered, work as well as other types of organic mulch.

Her coconut branch mulch saves Nazma money, helps conserve moisture, and is better for the environment than plastic mulch. A positive innovation all the way around!

Indonesia: Unlikely Containers for Growing

The Mawar Women Farmers group in Riau Islands Province, Indonesia, is one of the groups that has received guidance from EWS-KT sister organization Yayasan Bina Tani Sejahtera (YBTS). The six members of the group were new to farming, but they were up for the challenge.

Growing a backyard garden on the island is not easy, since soil is difficult to come by. Enlisting the help of their husbands, the women collected soil from the island’s hill. 

Next, they needed containers in which to grow their plants. Taking stock of what they had, they found creative ways to utilize used items such as bottles, bags, and plastic jugs as pots. 

With guidance from Technical Field Officers Laili and Fajar, they successfully grew mustard greens, eggplants, chili peppers, and tomatoes in these makeshift pots, and they produced enough to sell the extra vegetables to their neighbors.

Tanzania: Water Conservation System

James, an EWS-KT farmer from Kahama, Tanzania, has been implementing an innovative well system that utilizes layers of sand and clay to retain water for a long period of time. In addition to providing water for his own crops, this has allowed him to sell water to fellow farmers and to brick makers, generating income to sustain his farming activities. His efforts are a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of farmers who find solutions to local problems using their own knowledge and available resources.

James’s success has served as an inspiration for others in his community, who have started adopting similar methods to overcome water scarcity challenges. His determination and resourcefulness not only have benefited his own farming activities but have also positively impacted the lives of others in his community.