Stories from Heifer Communities

'Stuff' Happens... to make food better

Heifer has always purported its seven Ms. These are the seven things that providing an animal can mean for a family: milk, meat, muscle, motivation, money, material and, today’s rock star, manure.

Of course, the value of manure is nothing new to growers: organic fertilizer is used by most small farmers who practice subsistence farming all over the world. 

In Romania, this is certainly the case. There, supermarkets and other food vendors typically sell produce grown using all sorts of chemicals. But now, more and more there, people want to return to the more organic forms of gardening without all the artificial fertilizers and chemicals — and the demand is rising.

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Biogas Transforms Kitchens in Uganda

How does manure from a cow transform the life of a family in Uganda? A picture tells a thousand tales, and this is the story of how the introduction of biogas helped Deborah go from an unhealthy, smoke-filled kitchen to a brighter, cleaner and safer place to cook.

Biogas has been shown to decrease incidents of eye infections, cataracts, blindness and respiratory illnesses because it burns clean and without the odor of manure. Biogas also increases savings because it cuts down on money needed for medical expenses. This also means less money is used for firewood, charcoal and paraffin for lighting. This all goes towards improving the quality of life for everyone in the house.

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Refuse Reuse

Biogas is a renewable energy source. Technically speaking, it’s methane-rich gas, produced through anaerobic (without air) digestion of organic waste. When organic waste, like cow dung, is trapped in an oxygen-free environment, bacteria breaks it down. The result is a biogas that is about 60 to 70 percent methane and 30 to 40 percent carbon dioxide. Used for both cooking and electricity, the gas saves trees from being used as firewood and brings electricity to rural families who wouldn’t have it otherwise. 

There's another major benefit. Bio-slurry, a rich fertilizer that is a byproduct of biogas production, can dramatically boost crop yields. Peter Mulema, a farmer in Uganda, expects he will soon be able to sell bumper crops of maize, bananas, potatoes and beans.

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