Grace Road Food Company Limited is now ready to introduce ‘earthworm farming’; which is believed to be a first in Fiji.
The Korean-headquartered company visited Australia for organic Earthworm Compost (vermicompost) training from March 31 to April 4 and bringing earthworms to Fiji.
The team included Grace Road Food managing director, Daniel Kim, and six members from the company.
They were also accompanied by an Entomologist from Biosecurity Authority of Fiji, Nilesh Chand and Senior Research Officer from Koronivia Research Centre/Ministry of Agriculture, Apenisa Talemaikadavu Sailo.
The team visited Davo’s Worm Farm in Victoria, and underwent intensive training for three days.
Mr Kim confirmed the team arrived in Fiji with the Earthworms the past Saturday.
He said fertiliser in Fiji is imported and high priced, so local farmers cannot afford chemical fertilisers.
“This earthworm farming allows farmers to use organic vermicompost with low costs,” he said.
Why earthworm farming?
Mr Kim said there are many microorganisms in the soil and the more, the better.
“Micro-organisms absorb the nutrition from the air and other surrounding environment to make the soil healthier,” he said.
“The earthworm creates castings (vermicompose) through decomposing food waste, animal manure and water sludge and so on.
“The earthworm’s body is the best incubator for microorganism cultivation. When the earthworms eat food, microorganisms are bred inside.
“After that, the earthworms excrete feces including propagated microorganisms as much as the worm’s weight.
“This vermicompost is ‘an extraordinarily powerful growth promoter in crops and five to seven times more nutritious than ordinary compost and significantly higher over chemical fertilizers.
“This is while also repelling crop pests and suppressing diseases protecting the soil, restoring and improving its natural fertility.”
The owner of Davo’s Worm Farm, David Davidson, said: “Worm Castings generally make available 5 times more nitrogen, 7 times more Phosphorus and 11 times more Potassium than the surrounding soil.
“This effectively eliminates the need to ever apply NPK fertilisers again.”
He said the environment can be protected by reducing waste amount as the earthworm eats food waste and water sludge. Moreover, we can reduce waste disposal costs.”
An actual example in South Korea, government provides agricultural subsidy to farmers who make the vermicompost, because through worm farming, they can reduce the environmental and economic costs of landfill.
Why from overseas?
One of the earthworm species most often used for composting is the Red Wiggler which does not exist in Fiji.
This species is not the same kinds that are found in ordinary soil in Fiji.
According to many studies, the Red Wiggler has more propagation power, ability of organic matter decomposition and adaptability of environment change than any other species.
Mr Kim said: “The way for sustainable agricultural development is not far away.
“Imagine, these great little recyclers decompose waste and create helpful compost at the same time.
“I feel confident that these small creatures are not just earthworms, but are the earth’s warm future.
“Grace Road Food Company will make this Deuba Farm to be the best model case of organic farm in the world.”