Farmer's Diary: Organic farming for increased food production
Posted Wednesday, February 6 2013 at 00:00
Farmers value soil that is naturally good for crop production--with sufficient nutrients to support vigorous growth of crops and to produce high yields. These days, apart from the concern about sustaining natural soil fertility, farmers are burdened with climate change.
Weed control measures, fertilisers, and machines they depend on for work should all be considered in terms of soil conservation, environment protection, and climate change mitigation.
Organic agriculture encourages the continued presence of organisms that keep the soil productive and take nutrients deeper into the soil where the plant roots are.
A recent report from Worldwatch Institute, organic farming has the potential to contribute to sustainable food security by improving nutrition intake and sustaining livelihood in rural areas, while reducing vulnerability to climate change and enhancing biodiversity.
“Sustainable practices associated with organic farming--applying mulch to empty fields, compost preparation, burying animal manure in the garden, rotating crops, and maintaining perennial shrubs and trees on the farm--are relatively labour intensive and reduce about 50 per cent usage of fossil fuel.”
About 80 per cent of our rural households in Uganda may be described as smallholder farmers with capacity to practice such labour intensive and environmentally friendly farming practices if they choose to.
They farm on small plots that would make the use of heavy machines such as tractors unworkable. This means that their need for diesel and other such fuel that would lead to more carbondioxide emission is reduced.
The Worldwatch Institute report goes on to say organic farming will become increasingly important in developing countries since the greatest population growth is concentrated there.
It adds that 80 per cent of the global certified organic farmers live in the developing world and Uganda is mentioned along with India and Mexico as having had the biggest number of certified organic farmers in 2010 internationally.
Organic farming is also growing in industrialised countries and between 2009 and 2010, Europe is said to have increased its organic farmland by 9 per cent to 10 million hectares.