Photo credit: Belfast Telegraph
New evidence suggests that organic practices are delivering sharp increases in yields, improvements in the soil and a boost in the income of Africa’s small farmers
Africa – Privatizing Land and Seeds
“The G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition was launched in 2012 by the eight most industrialised countries to mobilise private capital for investment in African agriculture. To be accepted into the programme, African governments are required to make important changes to their land and seed policies. … [for example] Despite the fact that more than 80% of all seed in Africa is still produced and disseminated through ‘informal’ seed systems (on-farm seed saving and unregulated distribution between farmers), there is no recognition in the New Alliance programme of the importance of farmer-based systems of saving, sharing, exchanging and selling seeds.” – Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and GRAIN, January 2015
Countless reports by global and African agencies highlight the critical role for agriculture in African development. Almost all agree that small farmers are key to addressing poverty and food insecurity. But many policies, such as those described in this new report from the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and GRAIN, lead in practice to empowerment of agribusiness giants rather than small farmers. By imposing legal frameworks based on Western industrial agriculture, powerful interests make a mockery of international pledges to help small farmers.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from the report “Land and Seed Laws under Attack: Who is pushing changes in Africa?” (full report available at http://tinyurl.com/m5g8zje)
For summary talking points and previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on food and agriculture issues, visit http://www.africafocus.org/intro-ag.php
Read the full article: allAfrica
Photo credit: The Guardian
From dust bowl to bread basket: digging the dirt on soil erosion
by Caspar van Vark
Pinpointed by Heriberto Lopez
Poor soil quality has seen agricultural productivity in Africa decline when it drastically needs to increase. Will 2015’s International Year of Soils help?
A recent report on conserving, restoring and enhancing Africa’s soils recommends a holistic approach to soil management called Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM). This includes adding organic matter such as crop residues and manure into the soil, applying small (and therefore affordable) amounts of mineral fertilisers and planting legume crops such as cowpea that naturally deposit nitrogen into the soil.
SHP has taught farmers about these methods via 130,000 demonstrations in 13 countries over the past five years. “The demos are on farmers’ land, school fields, churchyards or roadsides,” says Jama. “One plot might have little or no inputs, with a second plot showing the microdosing of fertiliser – very small amounts placed in the planting hole, along with manure – and another plot might have legumes where, in the next season, they can put sorghum where previously they had legumes.”
These methods have yielded results. In Ghana 117,000 participating farmers have seen maize yields increase from 1.5 to 3.5 tonnes per hectare. In Malawi, yields have risen from 2 to 4.6 tonnes.
Read the full article: The Guardian
Photo credit: Pixabay
Family Farming Eases Food Shortages in Eastern Cuba
By Patricia Grogg
On the three hectares they have been working for the past seven years, the couple combine agroecological techniques with the rational use of natural resources, as they learned in the permaculture courses given in the city by the non-governmental ecumenical Bartolomé G. Lavastida Christian Centre for Service and Training (CCSC-Lavastida).
“We had to ‘deprogramme’ ourselves to start using these techniques, because when you have planted the same thing in the same way all your life, it’s hard to believe it’s possible to diversify crops and stop using chemicals.” — Omar Navarro
The microproject gave them economic support to improve the infrastructure on their farm and buy livestock, in exchange for a commitment to donate part of their production to vulnerable segments of society, such as terminally ill patients, people living with HIV/AIDS, or the elderly.
Read the full article (marked with highlights): IPS
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A back-to-the-land movement is blossoming in the Palestinian Authority, the United Nation’s newest nonmember observer state. “The Palestinian future is in the land.” Farmer Khader Khader said, standing in his organic olive grove in the northern West Bank village of Nus Jubail. Many Palestinian farmers are switching to organic farming methods, and selling their oil to high-end grocers in the US and Europe.
According to the aid group Oxfam, an estimated 17,000 tons of olive oil is produced annually in the West Bank by thousands of farmers, some of whom are producing fair trade olive products. Olive oil has unique traditional and cultural significance in the region. Most Palestinian olive oil is produced for local consumption. But this product is becoming increasingly important for Palestinians’ connection to the global economy.
The business of organic farming, for international markets, was first introduced to the West Bank in 2004. According to Nasser Abu Farha of the Canaan Fair Trade Association (who we’ve covered here), one of the companies selling organic Palestinian olive oil to distributors abroad, today at least $5 million worth of organic olive oil is exported from the territories every year.
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The Lusaka Declaration on mainstreaming organic agriculture
Summary & Comment: The conference of 300 from over 40 countries agreed that organic agriculture plays a key role in sustainable development, food security, poverty reduction, environmental security, climate change adaptation, human health, preservation of indigenous knowledge, plant varieties and animal breeds as well as socio-cultural development. They produced an African Organic Action Plan with six pillars: information, training, capacity building, policies etc. wide support and funding from FAO, UN, NGO’s. This is obviously a mainstream initiative to draw in and support organic producers. JK
Author: 2nd African Organic Conference
Date Written: 5 May 2012
Primary Category: Food and Land
Document Origin: 2nd African Organic Conference
Secondary Category: Africa General
Source URL: http://www.africanorganicconference.com
We, the 300 participants from over 40 countries gathered at the 2nd African Organic Conference held in Lusaka, Zambia 2-4 May 2012 on the theme “Mainstreaming Organic Agriculture in the African Development Agenda”.
We agree that organic agriculture plays a key role in sustainable development, food security, poverty reduction, environmental security, climate change adaptation, human health, preservation of indigenous knowledge, plant varieties and animal breeds as well as socio-cultural development. We shared international research results confirming that the adoption of organic agriculture practices significantly increases yields in Africa. Based on locally available renewable resources instead of purchased chemical inputs (over 90 percent of which are imported in sub-Saharan Africa), organic producers are less vulnerable to international input price volatility. Moreover organic agriculture is climate smart agriculture, as it produces lower emissions and also provides much greater resilience in times of climate extremes such as drought and heavy rains.
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Organic Agriculture’s Role in Combating Desertification
Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.
Read at : GARDENS/MINI-FARMS NETWORK
Organic, No-till Farming
The solution to world hunger is teaching the farmers to farm profitably and sell locally. There is a grassroots movement, around the world, for families and groups to produce their own food due to cost, flavor and chemical contamination. “There’s this belief that in order to stop poverty, we have to find ways to get people to stop being farmers. What we need to do is find ways to stop them from being poor farmers.” Amy Smith, MIT This can feed the world regardless of how high the population goes. The demand for local, organic, fresh food is unlimited in most countries in the world.
The following will do that! These are based on the internet, US & international agriculture magazines, experiences teaching agriculture in many countries, research data and farmer experiences in those countries and a demonstration garden. They are ecologically sustainable, environmentally responsible, socially just and economically viable.
Organic, no-till farming, in permanent beds, using only a machete/corn knife/weed knife, doubles or triples yields compared to traditional ways, reduces labor 50% to 75%, reduces inputs/expenses to nearly 0 [buy only seed for new crops and green manure/cover crops], increases fertility, stops soil erosion [no rain water runoff], eliminates most weed, disease and insect problems and greatly increases profits if marketing. Use DIY drip or DIY bucket drip irrigation [made by farmer] to produce during the dry season and in areas of low rainfall.
These practices stopped the migration of farm families to the cities. [Honduras]. The majority of the food in develop-ing countries is produced by women farmers. They need help. There is unlimited, documented proof. There are 105,000,000 no-till hectares worldwide.
Fukaoka Farm, Japan, has been no-till [rice, small grains, vegetables] for 70 years. At the time of my visits, an Indian farmer has been no-till [vegetables] for 5 years, a Malawi farmer has been no-till [vegetables] on permanent beds for 25 years and a Honduras farmer has been no-till [vegetables & fruit] on permanent beds on the contour (73° slope] for 8 years. Ruth Stout [USA] had a no-till garden for 30 years and 7,000 people visited her garden. I have been on farms where the farmer, alone, farms 10 acres [4 hectares], using only a machete [bush knife/corn knife].
Read at : Google Alert – desertification
Organic is about ‘dirt farming,’ ‘feeding the world’
Written by Jim Ewing
Ideas about what constitutes “organic” – especially by people who should know better – surprises me sometimes.
For example, I keep seeing “studies” that purport to show that conventional, i.e. industrial/chemical agriculture “outperforms” organic crops.
It’s become a chestnut that it “feeds the world” (by spraying poisons, using up fossil fuels and destroying plant diversity through genetic manipulation – which are each and all unsustainable practices).
But the boastful claims are often based on “science” that’s skewed toward conventional methods. Notably, a “scientist” will take one plant and will dump synthetic fertilizer on it, spray it with pesticides and herbicides, then take another plant and and leave it alone and call it “organic.”
Naturally, the “conventional” ag plant will appear to thrive. But that’s a false measure. There’s nothing “organic” about a neglected plant in poor soil.
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Advantages and Disadvantages of Organic Farming Methods
With the emergence of Organic Farming methods a number of farmers in USA, UK, Australia, and India and across the world have been diverted to it from traditional farming. The rising demand of organic food is also a factor which influences the farmers to use this technique. If you are interested in this type of farming then surely you want to know the advantages and disadvantages of organic farming. For you information, I’m going to shed light on all positive and negative aspects of Organic Farming, so you can decide whether to opt it or not:
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Organic Farm Flourishing in a Slum (Kibera, Nairobi)
This sprawling settlement is known as Kibera. It sits on the edge of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, and is the country’s largest slum.
Victor Matioli was determined to find a way to make a living. So he and 35 other young men found an unlikely solution – using the land they live on to grow their own food.
[Victor Matioli, Organic Farmer]:
“This area had a very bad reputation. The youth here were very bad before they reformed. People looked down on us and said bad things about us. They said, those young people are wasting their time, they have come up with an idea that will not help them. They are lazy and are in the habit of reaping unfairly, they will not manage. This brought our morale down, but we pushed on, encouraged each other and managed quite well.”
The group set up their farm on an abandoned piece of land. Previously neighbours used to dump their rubbish here. Two large water tanks were donated, and the farm flourished.
Among other vegetables it grows tomatoes, cucumbers and pumpkins. Originally the farm was built out of necessity – food was scarce after the post-election violence of 2008. Now the group grows more than it needs, so they sell their produce to the local community.
The vegetables are completely organic, and that’s welcome in Kenya.
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Organic Agriculture’s Resilience Shows Untapped Potential
Washington, D.C. – Despite the crippling effects of the recent economic slowdown on many industries, the organic agriculture sector not only sustained itself during this period but also showed signs of growth. “In 2009, organic farming was practiced on 37.2 million hectares worldwide, a 5.7 percent increase from 2008 and 150 percent increase since 2000,” writes policy analyst E.L. Beck, in the latest Vital Signs Online release from the Worldwatch Institute.
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) defines organic agriculture as: “a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment.” Continue reading “Organic agriculture, an eco-friendly means of improving livelihoods and preserving natural resources (WorldWatch)”