Spend a day with Zimbabwean farmer, Jonah Chimusoro, and you will be struck by several things. The first is his obvious passion for what he does as he explains how everything on his farm works together, in a symbiotic cycle of sustainability.
A team from the Hivos Regional Office in Southern Africa recently visited his farm, and a tour meant to last a few hours ended up taking the whole day.
The second thing that will strike you about Chimusoro is his innovation. A former mechanic, he has come up with numerous inventions for his farm, including a modified petrol generator that runs on biogas from a digester he built with his own enhancements to avoid the sludge problem that many digesters develop.
Thirdly, you will be struck by his generosity. He holds nothing back as he painstakingly explains each part of the farm and how the pieces fit almost magically together.
Chimusoro’sfarm is off the grid. He has a connection to the main electricity grid, but only as a second back up after biogas and solar. Waste from pig pens is channelled to the biogas digester which produces power for the farm. He has developed a method of pressurising excess methane gas and storing it in gas tanks. This gas is used to power thegenerator and can even be used to power a modified car.
Chimusoro has also developed a small, mobile digester, made from a 200 litre oil drum. “Feed the waste you produce from your kitchen into this digester on a daily basis and it will provide you with enough energy to power that same kitchen,” he explained to us as jaws dropped in disbelief.
Waste from chicken runs is thrown into 100,000 litre fish tanks where tonnes of tilapia breed happily. The water from the fish tanks and the waste products from the biogas digesters are used as a fertiliser. His farm is on sandy loam soil where yields for maize should be very low, but just by using the methodsand organic fertiliser he has developed, his yields are two to three times what farmers on fertile soil are getting.
Around his farm, mint bushes keep the flies away instead of pesticides, garden rue makes sure snakes are kept at bay, and he grows herbs that cure hundreds of ailments.
Chimusoro’s vision? To make sure that everyone who is hungry, everyone who is sick, learns the integrated farming methods he is practising. “There is no need for anyone to be hungry,” he said. “God has given us everything we need.”
It is for these reasons that Hivos is partnering with Chimusoro so he can share his methods with some of its Green Village projects in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Chimusoro will work with farmers and teach them how to run integrated, sustainable farms.