Conventional farming practices are proving unsustainable because of the high inputs and monocropping; practices that are expensive and damaging to the soil. Eventually these negatively impact the quality of produce, the environment and health of the farmer and his workers to say the least.
Greenpeace conducted fieldwork research in Malawi and Kenya to explore conventional i.e. chemical intensive vs ecological farming and the results are easy to see. Instinctively we know ecological is better, and now we know for sure as stated in their Fostering Economic Resilience Report.
If you want to farm profitably you have to embrace Agroecology and bio-fertilisers. What does that mean to the Kenyan farmer? What do those terms mean?
Agroecology is the scientific discipline of studying agriculture as ecosystems, looking at all interactions and functions i.e. producing food but also cycling nutrients, building resilience, etc)
Bio-fertilisers are substances that contain agriculturally beneficial micro-organisms which when applied to the soil can form mutually beneficial relationships with plants and can assist nutrient availability.
Farmers need to incorporate agroecological farming practices by adopting the following principles:
1. Food sovereignty – ecological farming supports a world where producers and consumers, not corporations, control the food chain. Food sovereignty is about the way food is produced and by whom.
2. Rewarding rural livelihoods – ecological farming contributes to rural development and fighting poverty and hunger, by enabling livelihoods in rural communities that are safe, healthy and economically viable.
3. Smarter food production and yields – in order to increase food availability globally and improve livelihoods in poor regions, we must achieve higher yields through ecological means and reduce unsustainable use of food crops currently grown (reduce food waste and meat consumption, and minimise land for bio-energy).
4. Biodiversity – ecological farming is based on diversity from the seed to the landscape level, relying on and protecting nature by taking advantage of bio-diversity. This biodiversity translates into a high diversity in the food we eat, improving diets and nutrition, taste and health.
5. Sustainable soil health – ecological farming can increase soil fertility without chemicals while protecting soils from erosion, pollution, acidification; and by increasing soil organic matter that enhance water retention in the soil and prevent land degradation.
6. Ecological crop protection – ecological farming enables farmers to control pest and weeds without the use of chemical pesticides that can harm our soil, water and ecosystems, and the health of farmers and consumers.
7. Resilient food systems to climate change – ecological farming can be used as an adaptation and mitigation strategy to climate change, creating resilience with biodiversity.