Jholmal: A new sustainable alternative to chemical pesticides and fertilizers in Nepal

April 3, 2024

At Akasha Academy Nepal, we are preparing alternatives for chemical pesticides and fertilizers to impove our organic farming. Among the substitutes for pest control, our team has prepared Jholmal. This is a liquid biofertilizer and biopesticide, that is made from locally available materials like insect-repellent plants, cow urine, and cow dung.

In this article, we will give you an overview of the making process of this new fertilizer and shed light to the reasons why alternative sustainable agriculture approaches are so important in Nepal.

What is Jholmal?

Jholmal is a homemade bio-fertilizer and bio-pesticide prepared by mixing and fermenting in a defined ratio locally available materials such as animal urine, water, beneficial microbes, farmyard manure, and leaves with a pungent odor and taste. It helps control insect pests that attack, and damage crops, protects crops against fungal and vector-borne diseases, and improves plant health. 

Jholmal is especially suited to improve small scale terrace farming, because everything needed is right at hand. German readers might know a similar biopesticide calledBrennnesseljauche, also known as nettle brew or nettle water, that repels aphids and supplies plants with nitrogen and potassium.

Urgent need for alternative approaches to promote biodiversity in Nepal

Insects and pests are an inherent part of farming and so is their management. Insects and pests cause significant crop loss every year. In the present situation, one of the main issues in Nepal is that farmers are dependent on chemical pesticides due to their widespread use.

The question of why we even need alternatives is inevitable. The production is going well, and our chemical pesticides are working wonders in killing pests. However, this is where we are mistaken. Just because we are merely denying the need for alternatives, we are making our foods poison, endangering our biodiversity, destroying our environment, and the list goes on. Production and profit are so embedded in our society that we have become oblivious to the hazards pesticides have brought to human health, the environment, and soil health. Many genetic disorders and diseases are linked to the use of pesticides. Haphazard use of chemical pesticides has indiscriminately killed our bees, bugs, and other pollinators and threatens our global food security. Our fertile soil is turning barren due to the residue of agricultural chemicals.

Why Jholmal?

How does Jholmal fit into this equation of harmful pesticides, then? Well, it can replace chemical pesticides. You may be wondering why Jholmal is a better option. There is a plethora of benefits that the biofertilizer provides:

  • They cut down the cost of buying chemical pesticides as they are made with locally available ingredients.

  • They do not leave harmful residue in the environment.

  • They do not harm beneficial insects and pollinators, nor pose any threat to biodiversity, and are also safe for the users.

  • Using Jholmal reduces soil degradation brought on by excessive chemical use as well.

Jholmal, thus, can be considered a cost-effective, environment-friendly alternative to pesticides.

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Different plants used in Jholmal, that have hot, bitter, astringent, pungent taste or odor.
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The production of Jholmal requires physical labor, but only free ingredients are used

Preparation of Jholmal

Jholmal is prepared using locally accessible ingredients like plants with hot, bitter, astringent, pungent taste or odor, that have insect repellent properties along with cow urine and cow dung.

  1. The first step is gathering the plants: stinging nettle, thorn apple, marigold, lantana, Persian lilac, Mexican devil, and cannabis, among others.

  2. Then, cow dung and ash are mixed in a clean cotton cloth and wrapped around tightly. Cow dung is rich in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous and helps to add organic matter to the soil. Diverse nutrient content in ash is essential for plant growth.

  3. The next step includes chopping the collected plants into small pieces.

  4. After that, they are added to a container and pressed simultaneously. The process is continued until the container is half-filled.

  5. After placing the mixture of cow dung and ash tied in cotton cloth in the middle of the container, chopped plants are added until the container is 70% full.

  6. Introducing cow urine and water into the container is the next step. Cow urine has antimicrobial, bactericidal, and antifungal properties. The cow urine and water are added until the water oozes out while pressing the ingredients into the container.

  7. Finally, the container is sealed and made airtight.

  8. Application of the liquid biofertilizer by bucket or pouring can

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Mixture of cow dung and ash tied in a cotton cloth
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Container 70% filled with the ingredients
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Filling the container with cow urine and water

What's next?

Using Jholmal, we not only protect our crops from pests but also protect our pollinators, beneficial insects, and birds. The question is, when will we use the alternative that we can prepare easily? It should be as easy as the quote says, “If not us, who? If not now, then when?

Our aim is now to organize workshops to local farmers in the area, to show them how to produce and use Jholmal on their own farms. And of course, we will keep using it ourselves and develop further sustainable agriculture approaches.

If you’re interested in supporting our environmental protection and education initiatives, please get in touch or make a donation. All support is highly appreciated!

Jebina_writer

Writer

Jebina Shrestha is an agriculture graduate and currently working as an agriculture officer trainee at Akasha Academy Nepal. She is passionate about exploring different production strategies to ensure global food security and reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint.