Growth & Jobs | Waste not! - Organic fertiliser company provides jobs for locals
As the manufacturer of organic fertilisers, Hugh Johnson has been protecting the environment and saving the Government millions of dollars in the process.
Johnson is the managing director of Johnson’s and Son Organic Fertiliser Company Limited, which produces organic fertilisers, fungicide and insecticide. He manufactures these from waste material which would otherwise have contributed to environmental pollution.
“I save Riverton millions of tonnes of waste that would clog it up even faster than it is being clogged now, and turn that into a fine fertiliser,” he said.
Johnson utilises waste collected from sugar, ackee, rice, and banana factories, and then uses a process to convert these wastes to fertiliser. From the cane factory, for example, he uses the trash.
“I pack it in a particular blend and put it through bio-fermentation and break it down,” he explained.
Johnson grew up on a farm in Kitson Town, St Catherine, and his father worked for both Caribbean Broilers and Jamaica Broilers.
“There is a part of that operation where the litter that is left in the chicken house, it is obnoxious, it is not pleasant and it is an environmental hazard; it can’t be put any and anywhere,” she said.
“So there was a great need for something to be done with this, and out of that need, I do it as a hobby while I was in school,” he said. From his hobby, he started his company 25 years ago. The company now provides an income for several families. At least nine persons are employed on a regular basis, but this figure goes up to as many as 35 in peak season.
“Organic is the better way to go because our land is a non-renewable resource that must be cherished and protected for future generations,” he said.
“It is in growing demand. The buzzword now is ‘organic’ and a lot of people are flooding the market, but I am telling buyers to be aware,” said Johnson.
He said there is a plethora of fertilisers on the market, but these are not necessarily healthy for the environment.
“I believe our soil is being burnt out with the salt fertilisers that is being put on it on a daily basis,” he said.
“They will tell you all the goodness that it would do to get your plant to grow well, they won’t tell you the side effects. It’s just like the chemicals that we use in our bodies; it cures one ailment, but it has six more side effects,” he said.
Johnson’s company currently exports to several other countries, including the Cayman Island, Haiti, Bermuda and Grenada.
His fertiliser is used by coconut, banana, cane, coffee and cocoa farmers. It is also used in the creation of blooming flowers.
“The organic approach is to fortify the soil and once the soil is conditioned properly, if you put grass there, it will do well, or if you put a mango tree there, it will do well. Anything you plant will do well,” he said.