In a few small towns in the eastern part of El Salvador, in the Conchagua department, are growing their crops with homemade organic fertilizers. In a project begun by the Salvadoran Foundation for Social Promotion and Economic Development (Funsalprodese), small family farmers are using organic fertilizers made from cow manure, including bocashi and California Red Worm compost (vermiculture). Funsalprodese has a development program that focuses on sustainable agricultural production, focusing its efforts on subsistence farmers primarily. The farmers that they reach have learned that the overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are harmful to their health as well as the health of the land. By making their own fertilizers, not only are they putting to use materials that would otherwise become waste, they are also helping rebuild soil fertility.
So far, only 33 families are a part of the program, but Funsalprodese hopes to reach all farmers in the Conchagua department in their efforts to improve the livelihoods of the poorest citizens of the country. The foundation works to educate farmers about new techniques that will save time and money, as well as improve their health through less contact with chemicals or through greater nutritional value of their typical meals by diversifying their crops. Funsalprodese does hope to expand to commercial farmers eventually. Meanwhile, the majority of the country still waits for the winter rains to begin. In some zones, the rain has been more frequent, but overall the rainfall has been so low that the hydroelectric company have issued a warning, saying that if 20 more days pass without rain, they will not be able to generate electricity (on a positive note, the geothermal plants have responded by saying they will boost production to cover the deficit). However, the plants and people need the rain, so it’s time to be doing our best rain dances!