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Organic Agriculture, Ecologically Productive Worms

The company Fertihumus is proving that chemicals are not required to fertilize soil. Hundreds of thousands of earthworms are taking care of this dirty job.

Edgar Messina García's employees are worth their weight in gold. Together they weigh three tons and their daily labor consists of providing the main ingredient for the manufacture of a unique agricultural fertilizer. This product combats plagues, possesses natural antibiotics, restores soil's biological activity, helps establish levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium in the soil and doesn't harm the environment.

It is called humus and comes from the excrement of an annelid that can be frightening: the red California earthworm.

Fertihumus is owned by Messina and his daughter, Paulina Lisette, both of whom cannot complain about having office claustrophobia.

Their office is La Cofradía ranch, located 20 kilometers above the town of Comala, on the sides of Volcán de Fuego, a volcano in the state of Colima. In the middle of a fairy tale landscape, their company annually produces 3,500 kilograms of solid humus and 100,000 liters of liquid humus. From there, the product is distributed to Mexico's main cities and exported to Egypt, various countries in the Middle East and to Hungary in central Europe.

It sounds easy but one most take into consideration that Edgar Messina was a civil engineer who all his life had worked in real estate. Then, six years ago he told his family and friends he was starting a new business.

The responses from nearly everyone were expressions of surprise and disbelief.

Messina had bought a ton of earthworms from an old client who was not doing too well.

"When they offered me the business, I focused more on the positive aspects than the negative ones. I studied the market and discovered it had potential. I grew it," Messina recalled.

The next step was to look for certification that guaranteed the product was absolutely organic, meaning only natural elements and no manmade or chemical resources were used in its creation. Fertihumus was certified by the Italian organization Bioagricert, according to guidelines from Inputs, an international auditing standard.