What is organic farming?
Organic farming is where the use of chemicals has not been practiced or minimized. We focus on 100% organic farming: absolutely no use of manufactured fertilizers and no use of chemicals to control diseases or pests. Organic farming is slowly catching momentum as more and more farmers start practicing farming methods that do away with the use of chemicals in their farms.
There is a huge shift too with the consumers. With the realization that the buyer has the power to control what farming methods are employed, more and more families start embracing organically produced food stuff. This is both from the aspect of eating healthy and protecting the environment.
Globally, Agriculture has contributed to a lot of damage to the soil over the years. Some of these soil damages are irreversible. Most can be re-ignited and made to produce, good healthy products. Organic farming is now seen as a cure to many worldwide issues including soil erosion, leaching, pests and disease control.
It has been noted with great concern that in many farms and surroundings, less and less butterflies are seen. Some scientists have stated that butterflies can be a great measure for a healthy environment. That means lack of butterflies for long means a poisoned surrounding, through chemicals used in the farms.
Why do organic farming?
Most governments and NGOs are giving incentives to encourage farmers to go the organic way. They are calling it going green. This aims to help farmers to embrace environmental friendly food production techniques. The available natural resources are taken care of, because organic farming encompasses many aspects employed for a common purpose. That is the long-term wellness of the environment, while feeding the nation with healthy food.
The benefits of organic farming far outweigh the disadvantages, and as such it is very encouraging to see more and more farmers joining in the band wagon of providing organic products.
Organic farming however means applying several techniques or activities together. These may include:
- Crop rotation
- Organic manure (animal wastes)
- Compost (Plant wastes/remains)
- Use of homemade pesticides, for example: Garlic, Aloe Vera, Mexican Marigold, Chili.
Some big advantage is the fact that some chemicals used in modern day farming leave residues on the product. The fruits and vegetables may look very enticing. Yet feeding on such, you actually ingest harmful chemical residues. Hormonal feeding is also prevalent in some farms, whereby both plants and livestock are fed on growth hormones to make them grow faster.
This way, this farmer’s interest is the quick money fetched from such quick-growth activities. The amount of food consumed by such livestock is reduced. Hence saving some expenses into the livestock because as he will deliver supplies earlier. In the process, the residue in the meat directly ends up in our kidneys.
This goes for fruits and vegetables too. We all want to eat healthy, but most times, we end up feeding on the nice, shining fruits and vegetables. Do we know what has actually happened in the farms? It is always good to check with the seller, especially in the local groceries, hoping they will be honest to give straight information.
One guideline is that organic farm produce is slightly more expensive than regular grown stuff. While not always, this can be a good measure. In some places, organic fairs are organized on a weekly basis. Such market place will be good to get your weekly supplies.
It is important to start promoting organic farmers, to give them motivation to produce more. In the process a healthy world will be gradually created. While food is not the only thing to enable a healthy world, it is the biggest activity that can actually shift the trend.
Nutritionists have repeated time and again that healthy eating and exercise can actually keep you from visiting the doctor. Healthy eating starts with feeding on nutrient-rich diets that are free from chemicals that cause more damage.
Some major advantages in use of organic farming techniques.
There’s no excess of natural materials.
Organic farming use natural materials, both for pesticide and soil improvement. These materials are readily available in the farms. Livestock wastes are one such source of manure. The livestock pens are cleaned and these wastes gathered in one place to continue drying and maturing. (aging of the manure).
Plat left overs can be used as both composts and mulches. For compost, these are gathered in one place or placed in a pit and left to dry and decompose. The now decomposed, dry material can be used to plant, enriching the soil.
The mulches are placed at the base of the plant to help protect the ground from drying too quickly. The plant continues to get moisture from the soil, conserving the water because evaporation is slowed. Both of these soil-enriching techniques cannot be overdone. The livestock manure needs to be mixed with soil to spread it. Unlike fertilizers, as long as the manure is mixed properly with the soil, you cannot have too much of it. In addition, the long term effects are that the soil continues getting in nutrients and cannot be overdone. What other farmers would be referring to as farm wastes, organic farmers will be using it to their advantage.
Mitigating damage done to the environment.
The use of such natural wastes is actually a great way of restoring the soil. When the farms are worked on without adding fertilizers and other chemicals, the soil is slowly restored naturally. It is made more productive. This therefore mitigates damage done over the years, if and where such chemicals and fertilizers have been used.
Farming in Africa, there is a lot of over dependence on rains for agriculture. Flash floods are a common thing and eventually chemicals used in the farms find their way into natural water bodies like lakes and rivers. A lot of damage to the marine life is done, sometimes killing important species. In some cases, some uncouth farmers have used chemicals near such water bodies where these products flow into the water bodies.
Some methods of organic farming like crop rotation helps get rid of some or both pests and diseases. Crop rotation helps get rid of such issues by making sure that the crop that is planted next is one that is not a welcome plant as host to the pest and the said disease. It is good to be keen and to seek further information especially where any pests and disease have been noticed. It is also highly recommended to use certified seeds to minimize the possibility of diseases-infested seeds and to increase yields.
One very important aspect of organic farming is to be in a network with other like-minded farmers. Join a network of the farmers who practice the same ideas and techniques like you. You can actually share any challenges you may be having in your farming activities. You could find that the same problem has been experienced by another farmer and as such, solutions would be readily available for you. Such platforms could be of great help both for problems, sourcing resources and may be even available markets for your organic produce.
Without a doubt, organic farming has its challenges and disadvantages.
Higher production cost for labor, lower cost on chemicals
Production cost is higher compared to modern/chemical farming. This is because manual work is more involved, compared to where chemicals would have been applied. For example, weeding has to be done manually, and hence it is more physical and labor intensive.
Application of composts requires human labor. More farm assistants are needed and this translates into higher production expense for the farmer.
Since chemicals with boosting agents are not used, yields tend to be lower compared to modernized chemical-based agriculture.
Also it is not easy to do large scale farming using organic techniques, because of how labor intensive it is.
Organic food is more expensive.
Eventually, because of higher production cost, the organic food is more expensive. Consumers tend to go for the cheaper option. Fortunately with time, more and more consumers have started to go for the organically produced products. This has started to be an incentive to the farmer.
Despite the few disadvantages, organic farming is the way to contribute and restore our farms. If you care about our environment, go start and you will be glad and feel great satisfaction that you have contributed.
When all is said and done, organic farming is the way to go. It is both very healthy to the consumer, and very important for the environment. There is less wastage as wastes are re-used as both compost and mulches. Water is conserved, and in addition to that, there is no chemical spill over to our water bodies.
The consumer feels a sense of owning up to restoring due to the fact that he has contributed in rebuilding the soil by buying organic. It is a win-win situation for the farmer, the environment and the consumer.
Equally important is to encourage other farmers to start practicing organic farming. The most crucial part of this equation is to encourage consumers to go for the organic produce, creating a market for the farmer. Eventually the world, the environment will all be healthy. Let’s all do our part, whether you are a farmer or a consumer.