Why adoption of organic farming is still discouraging
Despite the campaign and advocacy by promoters of organic agriculture to ensure that agriculturalists key into the system of farming, only insignificant fractions have aligned with it.
Organic or traditional farming is a production system, which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetically compounded fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators, genetically modified organisms and livestock food additives.
Though the system, according to experts is a bit tedious, but its advantages far outweigh its downsides. It is widely considered to be a far more sustainable alternative in terms of food production, as the practice enhances biodiversity that results in better soil quality and reduce pollution from fertiliser or pesticide run-off.
Reports have it that before the advent of inorganic or conventional agriculture, farmers in the olden days do their crops rotation, composting, and other processes in a way that favours the environment and biodiversity because they were cautious of hurting other people in the ecosystem.
But now, when efforts are geared towards returning to the farming system because of its health benefits and advantages to the environment, a lot foot-dragging and discouraging responses are tainting the efforts.
The common question begging for answers from the concerned stakeholders and other Nigerians is why the results from the intensive campaigns are still not encouraging.
President of the Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria (NOAN), Dr. Jude Obi, who said the problem stems from the fact that farmers are already used to conventional practice and other forms of crop production, said the process of adopting organic farms is very slow.
He said: “The farmers and in fact everybody practicing agriculture are already used to the conventional practice and other forms of production system, and the dynamics of change is important in this regard. The process of adoption is very slow. The information about organic agriculture is spreading, but intensive advocacy is required and it is not yet available to the extent that change will happen as fast as expected.”
While undermining the claim that it is impossible to achieve pure organic farming, Obi said: “There are principles and practices. There are clearly stated standards and procedures. The conformity to these standards and procedures renders the process as organic. These are practices accepted internationally.
“In the process of certification, consumers participate and ensure it conforms to acceptable criteria, then it is possible. Consumers who are committed to consume organic foods will reject any process that is contrary to their expectations.”
He attributed the discouraging responses to hesitancy from the states and absence of requisite policies. “The state will support other practices on input, equipment and advocacy, but will look the other way on organic farming campaign.
“Organic practice is more profitable that the conventional. The only difference is that it is labour and knowledge intensive. You know that any practice that is knowledge and labour intensive will be profitable. Any venture that is profitable should be properly planned and executed and that is the requirement in organic agriculture.”
The immediate past Public Relations Officer of the body, Mr. Taiwo Oduola, linked the discouraging attitude of farmers to the tedious nature of the farming system. “Organic farming can be tedious because our fathers in those days before the advent of conventional agriculture do their farms, crop rotation, composting and activities through the organic farming system, to favour the environment and biodiversity.
“Suddenly with the advent of this synthetic thing, they found farming more interesting and easier – when they experience pest attacks, they just buy insecticides and spray… but sensing the disadvantages of this, they brought back organic agriculture to us, but the way they pushed conventional agriculture with synthetics was not the same way they are pushing this.”
Oduola noted that if a process was adopted for about 30 to 50 years, changing it would take a more laborious approach. “Organic agriculture has a lot of enemies – the GMO producers, chemical and fertiliser producers are fighting organic agriculture underneath, because they put a lot of emolument on their own distribution and sales. So, organic farming is by interest now, when they push it to you, you’ll decide whether to take it or not if you know the benefits.
“Campaign and advocacy is never enough, we are trying to push the system of farming to the ADPs, but its not easy. It’s those who know that organic agriculture is good for their health that goes for it. We need a well-organised organic agriculture extension system, which is lacking in Nigeria; I know it costs a lot, but it will help the country a lot.”