Expert says organic farming critical to achieving food security in Africa

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FILE PHOTO: A worker uses a tractor to spray a field of cabbages at a farm in Eikenhof, South of Johannesburg, South Africa November 15, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo
A worker uses a tractor to spray a field of cabbages at a farm in Eikenhof, South of Johannesburg, South Africa November 15, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Use of organic methods of farming and integration of climate-resilient production systems are viable solutions to food insecurity and achieving food safety in Africa, an agricultural expert said on Friday.

Peter Mokaya, executive director of Organic Consumers Alliance, an advocacy group for organic agriculture, said agroecology has the potential to boost food production, food security and nutrition while restoring the delicate ecosystem and biodiversity that are essential for sustainable agriculture and development.

“Not only does the approach offer the prospects for zero hunger, poverty eradication, growth and sustainable resource management, but also remain the safest method to be embraced by the local population,” he told a forum in Nairobi.

Mokaya noted the harm that chemicals cause to soils, stressing the urgent need to develop alternatives that will help farmers reduce the use of chemical fertilizers, and ideally to stop using them altogether.

“It is unfortunate that the overuse of chemical fertilizers that were supposed to improve farm yields continue to degrade our lands and makes agriculture not really profitable for farmers, and in some cases leading to a situation where lands are affected by advanced degradation, posing a danger to the food we eat,” he said.

The expert said while striving to achieve food security, food safety is an important component that cannot be ignored.

“Considering the potential risks of poisoning, burns, cancers, birth defects and environmental degradation, chemical fertilizers should be used with extreme caution,” he said. “At the same time we should reckon that there is no food security without food safety.”

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