Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jumpah Home

During our October visit to Phnom Penh, Stan Doerr and I had the chance to visit Jumpah Home on the outskirts of the city. Founded by Tim and Darlene Ratzloff almost 10 years ago, Jumpah activities help families living with HIV-AIDS as well as orphans and low income persons.

Providing care for the residents adds up to a considerable cost. To help supplement associated expenses, and to offer agricultural outreach to neighboring farmers, the Jumpah team grows vegetables and also raises dozens of pigs for the local market. The pig production component was particularly intriguing as the operation contains several inter-linked activities, each of which yielding essential products. In combination, these activities and related products appear to provide a significant degree of self-sufficiency for the institution.

For instance, within the well-maintained pig production units, manure and other wastes are continually collected for the production of biogas. Tim reports that the resulting biogas provides the home with cooking fuel as well as supplemental lighting.

In addition, the biogas fuels a mechanical chopper powered by a gasoline engine that finely slices a variety of forage materials used to supplement the pig feed. These forages include a lot of aquatic morning glory (Ipomoea aquatica) and sweet potato vines (Ipomoea batatas) as well as a some mulberry (Morus alba) and a little roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa). To view Pastor Chanta's brief explanation of the biogas system and to see the chopper in action, click on this link.

Additionally, much of the manure and other waste collected in a covered cesspool are occasionally pumped out with a treadle pump and released into the forage production areas. This keeps the forage plots moist, well fertilized and productive almost year-round .

Citing the capital and labor required to operate Jumpah's agricultural component as well as other costs, Tim refuses to boast about any savings attained by the production cycle of hogs, biogas, forages and natural fertilizer. But he admits that a foundation is being built for a significant degree of self-sufficiency.

For Stan and I, it was quite evident that Jumpah home has developed an impressive and productive multi-faceted farm component. We look forward to seeing what they do next.

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