By Jacquiline Wahu
Food Insecurity is a perennial problem in Kenya, yet the country prides itself in having agricultural sector as the mainstay of it’s economy according to a Food Security Report by Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), 2012.
One would ask then, what can be done to ensure that the agricultural sector produces enough quality food to sustain the nation’s population?
Organic farming, which is quite untapped agribusiness practice, is the most promising method to be adopted for sustainable food production, not only in Kenya but worldwide.
It is important to note that Kenya lacks organic seeds outlet thus organic farmers must import from US and Europe, Italy being the major source as learnt from an Agri-Tour to Kenya Institute of Organic Farming (KIOF) in Juja organised by Bizna Kenya and Siri Zetu Travel. This gap begs to be bridged.
Unlike the Conventional method of farming, Organic Farming is the chemical free production of food, that emphasizes on crop rotation, use of compost and green manure, as well as use of biological method of pest control.
Modern farming in Kenya, which entails planting a certain crop on a piece of land over a certain duration while using fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides has been emphasized on for quick cash. Unfortunately, these chemicals weaken the soil by dehydrating it as well as killing the micro-organisms within, resulting in unproductive land with minimal or no yields.
On the other hand, Organic farming nurtures the soil by maintaining moisture and adding nutrients thus making the soil more productive as the farmer keep on enjoying more harvest over a period of time and in the end, the production gets to an optimum and remains more or less constant.
When put in comparison, organic farming is a long-term investment unlike modern methods which run for short span of time before depleting the fertility of the soil.
In addition to food security, the quality of food from organic farms is of acceptable health standards as research has proven, thus ensuring consumers of healthy foods, staying safe from health hazards triggered by conventionally produced foods due to presence of too much chemicals in the food.
According to KIOF, Organic Farming follows four principles in its system of food production that include health, ecology, fairness and care.
To adhere to the mentioned principles, there are ‘BIG FIVE’ activities that a farmer must do in their organic farms. The first one is Composting which demands the use of organic matter to fertilize the soil like mulch, green manure, compost among others.
The second move is to deepen and protect the top soil.
The farmer must also bring biodiversity onboard through crop rotation, mixed farming and intercropping.
In addition, management of pests and diseases must be done ecologically by adopting cultural practices, physical measures, biological predators and using botanical & natural repellants.
Finally, an organic farmer is required to rear livestock that will help reduce waste from farm and in turn give manure to be use as compost for the planting season. However, the livestock must be kept in ways that encourage welfare and use of their natural behavior according to their nature.
This cycle goes on and on ensuring minimum or no waste in the system of Organic Farming and maximum production of quality food products.
For more information on Organic farming check out:
The Organic Farmer: http://www.theorganicfarmer.org/
Or write to: ICIPE Email add: firstname.lastname@example.org