On Thursday, our team visited the FCC’s organic compost and biofertilizer production plant. Surrounded by lush green hills on both sides, the cows that contribute their manure to the compost munch away contently on the pasture next to the production facility. Arlen, the plant manager (pictured below) runs a comprehensive operation consisting of many different stages of waste processing and fermentation.
The compost and biofertilizer spray are not only about meeting organic production standards. They are an important part of protecting farmers’ health. In Colombia, small producers often spray agrochemicals with no protective gear and suffer from the effects of exposure to the toxins. Some of the most dangerous chemicals that have been banned in the U.S. for health safety reasons can still be sold and used here. The commonly used word for pesticides in Spanish, veneno, literally translates as “poison.” Arlen spoke of some of the fatalities from agrochemical poisoning, which have included his lifelong friends and children.
To illustrate the safety of the biospray to some skeptics during one of his field visits, he challenged the farmer to drink his fertilizer or pesticide. The farmer obviously did not, but Arlen showed how safe the organic biospray was by drinking some of it in front of the farmer. While he is telling us this story, Arlen uncovers one of the barrels where the concoction is fermenting. He takes some of the juice and sips it before us to emphasize his point. We try to process what he had done. Did he just drink that?! He smiles and says, “The first time you drink this it will give you diarrhea, but after that it’s fine. It’s all natural. Safe.”