Mr. Mao—A Great Teacher and a Great Farmer

A couple of weeks ago I met a guy who has been an inspiration to me for a long time. I actually met him through a video about the system of rice intensification, in which he is the star teacher. I don’t find the exact video in You-tube, but here is a link to another one in which he also is the star: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDQbdMOF0iU

Mr Mao has been an inspiration to me and literally thousands of farmers in Cambodia and other countries because he leads by example: showing how a human being can take worn-out soils and restore them, or take very minimal resources and multiply them—-so that people can experience greater abundance instead of hunger. So, it was a surprise to meet up with him when our World Renew staff in Cambodia offered me the bonus chance to meet a model farmer whom they have been contracting to train other farmers and community organizers. I’d like to share some of the highlights from our brief time with Mr Mao at his home. These are all pictures of things that he is doing right around his house. First, here he is:

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Here’s a pic of his experimentation with making biochar from rice hulls—he starts a wood fire in the lower cylinder and then surrounds it with rice hulls….it slowly chars the rice hulls. He then composts the charred rice hulls. At the end the rice hull bio char, when mixed in the soil hold soil water because of its porosity and holds soil nutrients because it contains has both positive and negative charges. There’s lots of research going on about bio char because it can sequester carbon in a form that is only slowly decomposed, thereby removing it from the atmosphere for a long time. So, Mr. Mao is involved in cutting edge research application!

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Like Rahkmat, whom I talked about in a previous blog, Mr. Mao multiplies the beneficial bacteria and fungi in his soil through a series of concoctions in the “effective micro-organism” methodology.

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He has limited space around his home. So to maximize his space he has built frames—from the amazingly versatile bamboo—with recycled water bottle plant holders to grow vegetables.

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Every where you turn, Mr Mao has something else growing or decomposing or fermenting! Here is his fast compost technique:

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People like Mr. Mao are very special people and meeting them is one of the joy’s of my work with World Renew. I’m so glad that we can serve him by helping to open up opportunities so that he can teach and inspire more farmers in Cambodia. And, I’m so grateful that he has helped us inspire farmers about the system of rice intensification, via his staring role in training videos—in India and Bangladesh. He has so many ideas—like growing vegetables in sacks of compost in places where the soil is poor or too hard, or where there is risk of flooding that may require moving the sacks. Thanks, Mr. Mao!

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