It’s Time for The Gambia to Embrace Organic Farming More

It’s Time for The Gambia to Embrace Organic Farming More

It’s Time for The Gambia to Embrace Organic Farming More

By / Agriculture / Thursday, 19 July 2018 03:52

Land, land, land. Good old land. Africa’s arable land. I wonder what Africa’s land thinks about Africans. Especially after the good people of the UN Environment did a Regional Assessment for Africa and reminded us that, ‘Africa has 60 per cent of the world’s unconverted arable land, indicating potential for investment in food production on a massive scale, which if realized could enable the region not only to meet its own food needs, but also to export globally.’

When Africa’s land read these words, it was dumbfounded.

‘How can 60 percent of me be right here in Africa yet you just choose to ignore me?!’ Good question.

The Gambia in West Africa is a living representation of this sad fact. Although this west African country is the proud owner of 558,000 hectares, more than half of this land is not being used.

Speaking to farmers in The Gambia’s North Bank Region, the Minister of Agriculture, Lamin N. Dibba said that said the government will subsidize the cost of fertilizer by almost 70 percent to ease timely access. This left me wondering whether this fertilizer route is really the right way to go. Think about a scenario where the Government even as it subsidized agriculture, the Government would also facilitate a largescale organic fertilizer rollout.

Apart from animal waste, almost all organic waste can be used as raw material for organic waste. This waste can be turned into organic fertilizer manually or industrially through several ways. Some of the simplest include manure piles and compost pits. In both cases, organic waste is allowed to decompose over a long period of time resulting in organic fertilizer that can be used on ones farm with the excess sold.

Organic fertilizer is therefore a potential extra revenue stream for Gambian farmers.

In addition, the beauty of organic food is that it’s also more nutritious. But don’t just take my word for it. The Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry published a study that delved into organic food. It established that organically grown food contained higher total phenolics.

Are you wondering what on earth phenolics is? Well, phenolics are vital for plant health as they enhance defense against insects and diseases. Phenolics are also important for human health as they contain a wide range of pharmacologic properties including anticancer, antioxidant, and platelet aggregation inhibition activity.

Do you now see why it is a big deal that organic food contains a higher level of phenolics?

The big deal of organic food is causing the expansion of organic agriculture. UNEP reports in its Green Economy Report that ‘the proportion of global arable land dedicated to organic crops has increased from a negligible amount in 1990 to around to 2 per cent in 2010, and as much as 6 per cent in some countries.’ This means that more and more people in the world are awakening to the indisputable health, environmental and economic benefits of organic farming.

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DJ Bwakali

DJ Bwakali

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