Entrepreneurs Tackling Climate Change: “We can reduce the use of pesticides and chemicals in agriculture” With Jaco Nel
People can create awareness then make a small change to contribute. Compost with worms and reduce your waste send to landfills. 40% of waste send to landfills is food scraps. It could be turned into castings by earthworms and better soil structure. Being focused on agriculture I think governments should subsidize farmers that farms organic. The farmer that is cautious and environmentally aware are not only fighting climate change and global warming but also producing much safer foods for humans by not using harmful pesticides and chemicals. As a governing body, support these farmers!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jaco Nel, owner of “The Worm Guy”, a company in South Africa specializing in Farming with Red Wiggler earthworms and products such as Vermi-Compost and Worm Tea. Jaco is also the author of the e-book “The Magic of Worm Farming” available at retailers such as Amazon, Apple, Sony, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Smashwords, etc.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
In short my whole career was in sales and management, I were very successful but always felt that I should do something more, something I’m passionate about. I started investigating different options with the goal in mind that whatever I do should make a difference, should make people’s lives better and should be something contributing to future generations. Somehow the universe led me to composting with worms, I started doing research and got really exited. Ideas just sprung forward and I knew, this is what I’m going to do. I started small and in secret, learning the business and getting to know earthworms intimately. After a year of tests and learning by trial and error I finally resigned and launched my business.
What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?
Our mission is two-fold:
Firstly, we are committed to create awareness about the impact of pesticides and chemicals in especially agriculture and the damage it causes to soil and impact it has on the environment.
Secondly, we are committed to educate the average household about reducing their waste send to landfills by composting with worms and at the same time producing lovely beneficial products to be used in their gardens and pot plants and improving soil structure.
Can you tell us about the initiatives that your company is taking to tackle climate change? Can you give an example for each?
Perhaps many of you have heard of the alternative form of composting known as vermi-composting, or composting with worms. Some of you may already own and operate a little “worm farm”. If you do, you know what a good job these little guys can do in turning your kitchen waste into top-quality plant food.
I think you will be surprised at the number of climate-related benefits we get from worms. I hope that it will get you thinking about becoming a vermi-composter, or, if you are one already, selling others on the idea.
Here are some of the ways in which compost worms help us to minimize greenhouse gases, adapt to unavoidable climate change, and generally sustain a healthy environment.
First of all, vermi-composting, like regular composting, keeps organic wastes out of landfills. This is very important in protecting against climate change.
Secondly, vermicompost can essentially replace fertilizer in your garden and on your lawn. Many people have done this, myself included, with great results! In addition, it is much more effective in this regard than regular compost.
Why is this important with respect to climate?
Fertilizer manufacturing is energy intensive. It accounts, by itself, for another 1 to 2 percentage points of GHG emissions. But that’s not all: the processes by which the raw materials for fertilizer are extracted, the transportation of these materials to the manufacturers, the shipping of the finished products to market and to your home, all result in even more GHGs. Finally, (as if that weren’t enough!), nitrogen fertilizers applied to soil usually release nitrous oxide (N2O), which is an even more potent GHG than methane (310 times the effect of CO2). It is not known exactly how much fertilizer contributes overall to GHG production, but the number is probably at least as high as the one for landfill gases.
Last, but definitely not least, vermicompost fights climate change through its beneficial impact on soils. It increases the level of carbon in soils, a process known as soil-carbon sequestration. This has several direct benefits: first, carbon stored in soils is removed from the atmosphere, which is the equivalent of reducing GHGs; second, that stored carbon increases both the nutrient content and the level of beneficial microbial life in the soil, which make the soil healthier and more resilient to things like changing temperatures and moisture levels; and third, the healthier soils have increased fertility, resulting in more plant growth and eventually more stored carbon (below ground, in roots and soil fungus).
Evidence for the benefits of vermi-composting are accumulating rapidly in the scientific literature. Progress is slower in the conservative realm of practical agriculture; however, in some countries, such as Cuba and India, the agricultural use of vermicompost is established and growing. You can make a difference anywhere by trying it out yourself and by telling others about it — particularly your gardening friends (although it works great on lawns and indoor plants, too). You CAN make a difference! If you are concerned about global warming, promote global worming!
We offer a solution to pesticide and chemicals in agriculture by introducing earthworm farming with its by-products (worm castings and worm tea) which is beneficial to soil. It is proven that this revives crops and improve yield and growth and is organ and environment friendly. Burrows made by earthworms will combat leaching as it betters drainage.
We teach to decrease your footprint and in getting your children involved you are also educating future adults in protecting the environment. We supply ready-made worm farms with full support on managing it.
I might be just a guy in South Africa doing my bit but what we need to understand is that the impact of climate change is global. Once carbon is released where ever you are it impacts everyone. Also doing your part in combatting this is global, reducing your carbon footprint wherever you are benefits everyone everywhere.
What was the most difficult thing you faced when you first started your company/organization? Can you share how you overcame that. This might give insight to founders who face a similar situation.
Creating awareness. This is ongoing. If you tell someone in South Africa about an earthworm they think fishing bait lol. Getting my message across about composting with worms was daunting but also an exciting challenge. How I did this was mostly with blogging https://thewormguy.co.za/social-links
Social media is also very effective https://www.facebook.com/worm.guy.524
Create an About.me profile, have a good website and get as much publicity as possible.
Many people want to start a company to tackle environmental issues, but they face challenges when it comes to raising enough money to actually make it happen. Can you share how were you able to raise the funding necessary to start your organization? Do you have any advice?
I started small, kept my day job and it took me a year of “growing” my business before I actually launched it. The beauty of my business is that you can start small, let it grow (breed worms, build up stock of compost, etc.) with very little investment and effort.
Do you think entrepreneurs/businesses can do a better job than governments to solve the climate change and global warming issues? Please explain why or why not.
I believe Jane Doe, living in a sky scraper with a small worm farm makes a difference so yes, businesses can do a better job. We are passionate and go the extra mile. We are not constraint by budgets, we formulate a goal and will do whatever it takes to achieve our goals. I don’t write an article, post it in a gazette and say “There, I’ve created awareness”. I live my passion. It’s not unusual to be at a barbeque and starting talking about my business. One of the golden rules of entrepreneurs is: Always be networking. I believe we reach so much more people from diverse communities and everyone adding their ideas gets us to solutions.
What are some practical things that both people and governments can do help you address the climate change and global warming problem?
People can create awareness then make a small change to contribute. Compost with worms and reduce your waste send to landfills. 40% of waste send to landfills is food scraps. It could be turned into castings by earthworms and better soil structure.
Being focused on agriculture I think governments should subsidize farmers that farms organic. The farmer that is cautious and environmentally aware are not only fighting climate change and global warming but also producing much safer foods for humans by not using harmful pesticides and chemicals. As a governing body, support these farmers!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would not want to say I’m self-made and I have not even come close to achieving all the successes I’m going to achieve but when I started my venture people probably thought I’m crazy. “Make money with worms, haha?” were a common reaction. I’ve done more than that by also helping others do the same. I don’t think there is one person I could credit for just believing in my idea.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.
1) You will work 16 hours a day. Many nights I still work at 12pm and apart from sharing supper with my family barely had a minute of interaction with them. Having a 9 to 5 job were much easier.
2) Selling an opportunity is harder than selling a product. I’m passionate about helping others starting a business and earning. Sometimes it is as if people want to be helped but also not. Rather give me money so I’m ok for now than teaching me how to create a permanent income.
3) No one will believe in you until you make it. Once you achieve success everyone says: “We knew you would do it. You can sell ice to an Eskimo”. Before, you only hear: “It’s a risk. You have a steady income now why resign. How will you survive?”
4) You need to learn new things daily. I managed many businesses for other people. Never have I learned as much as when I started managing my own business. There are so much to do and to learn. Make a point of learning something new every day!
5) You are not going to get credit for what you do. No one knows the effort I put in daily to achieve my goals. The behind the scenes things you do. The SEO management, finding new ways and places to do marketing, etc. They just see the sales coming in and thinking you’re lucky.
You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good to the world, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Add two earthworms to every pot plant you have, add a kilogram of earthworms to your garden!
What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?
Smashwords Interview: https://www.smashwords.com/interview/thewormguy
Smashwords profile page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/thewormguy
This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!