In Florida there is a multi-talented ecopreneur who pushes the envelope on energy and the environment to ensure a better world for the rest of us.
He has grown a crop called kenaf since 2008 and has derived so many uses from this versatile cousin to the hibiscus plant one can hardly keep track. From paper products, building materials, bio-fuel, food, to feedstock the kenaf plant has fueled inventor Bill Loftus to countless innovations, not the least of which is his latest project, an eco-village in Surinam.
The Surinam project will derive its income by selling kenaf seeds and leaves, and help local eco-minded farmers earn a living wage through agricultural production.
Perhaps the most lucrative agricultural product will be Moringa.
Moringa is known as the miracle tree and has innumerable healthful properties. Like kenaf, it is a fast-growing anti-bacterial, anti-fungal plant, whose leaves and seeds hold over 34% protein. Their potential to combat poverty and malnutrition cannot be understated. The leaves are rich in protein, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C and minerals. One hundred grams of fresh Moringa leaves has 2 times the proteinof 100 gm yogurt (Moringa 8.3 g, yogurt 3.8 g); (Wikipedia)
The Surinam ecovillage that Bill Loftus is pioneering has been granted 1000 acres by the government for agricultural development. The property will house 20-30 people or farmers and 10 staff. It will be the first if its kind and will incorporate energy and feedstock research.
“We are extremely close to a closing date for the Suriname eco village. I am so grateful to have gotten this far and so much of my work [with kenaf and moringa] is being looked at and taken seriously, “ says Bill Loftus
As with most developing countries the poor are not beneficiaries of the technological advancements and job opportunities. This eco-village will allow ordinary farmers to earn a decent wage while improving the environmental and health of the community. “As you know we are piggy backing on a gold mining enterprise. Some of the pro fits goes into groups like mine that hold promise for a living wage through agricultural production,” says Loftus.
“So many of our US illnesses can be said to have its origins in our diets that although high in calories lack nutrition. The proof is these illnesses do not exist in countries whose diet is not based on the ingesting of genetically modified corn for example. It’s about time environmentally sound solutions to so many problems.” says Bill Loftus.
As for the potential for kenaf and moringa, the Surinam project is springboarding off of a pilot project in Haiti where 30 lbs. of kenaf were planted in various villages in the countryside. Here’s a quote from one of the participants: “thank you and your staff for assisting us with training on growing our first kenaf crop in Haiti. I’m writing this letter to share with you on how the 30lbs of kenaf seeds I received back in May of 2009, helped the people of Haiti to grow better nutritional food for themselves and their families. It was a success. The people grew and harvested Whitten kenaf through their own hard work and efforts. The training worked well and we are looking forward to the next training on your mobile farm equipment where we could efficiently plant several villages quickly and potentially eliminate hunger in these villages.”