The Future of Farming: Sustainable Practices at NPH Farms
Yonis Raudales, the Director of Agriculture at NPH Honduras, explains the benefits of sustainable farming practices.
June 22, 2018 - Honduras
Here at NPH Honduras, three full meals a day, with snacks in between, has eliminated hunger in the children we support. We grow our food at NPH Honduras to ensure consistency, with an eye towards sustainability. To do this, we have been innovative in our farming practices.
Yonis Raudales, the coordinator of the farm, points to one particular sustainable practice as crucial in providing nutritious food to our children.
“The composting of organic material has helped our progress. We are in the process of expanding our organic compost use. We plan to reduce the amount of fertilizer we use overall by substituting compost,” Yonis explains.
NPH already produces a significant amount of compostable material, but the key is capturing and converting it.
“We collect around 165Kgs a day of compost, but we are aiming to get that close to 300Kgs a day. By working with the kitchen to collect more of the cooking byproduct, I think we can get there,” Yonis believes.
Because of the large demand for food, we do use a limited amount of fertilizer for our crops. However, with our composting system, we are able to substitute organic material for fertilizer. This process allows us to reduce our environmental impact while saving money.
“We spend a large amount on fertilizer each year. Currently, we are able to substitute around 30% of fertilizer use for compost. However, I am positive in this next year we can get that up to 60%,” Yonis explains.
Yonis, who grew up working in his parents’ farm in Ocotal, hours away from NPH, has always had a passion for farming.“My parents practically lived on their farm, and I was always learning from them,” he explains.
Working for more than six years working as an assistant at the NPH Honduras farm helped Yonis' application when the director position opened up seven months ago.
“NPH has more resources than I did individually, but there is a much larger demand, and I am not growing just to sell the food. It is for the children,” Yonis explains. “And the level of teamwork involved is certainly different. Coordinating staff and resources to collect the compost and ensure everything is running can be difficult.”
The process can be quite extensive. Yonis explains that the “organic material is collected from the kitchen, each of the houses and the animals. Then it is prepared under large tarps where the natural decomposition process takes place.”
“You then have to find employees to transport the compost in wheelbarrows to the field or to our seedling nursery,” Yonis finishes.
We use the most compost for the greenhouses, where we grow seedlings that are than transplanted to the larger fields.
“My favorite part of this position, though, is working with the youth. It is important for the youth to learn how to work in a farm setting even if they do not end up becoming farmers. I think it can help make Honduras a better country,” Yonis concludes.