Saturday, November 7, 2009

UN Favours Organic

Organic agriculture combines modern scientific research with traditional farming techniques in a sustainable, efficient farming system. By working with natural processes and making use of locally available assets, poor smallholder farmers can build up the fertility and productivity of their farms while avoiding dependence on expensive external inputs. Growing markets for certified produce mean that organic agriculture offers an important opportunity for the rural poor in developing countries to benefit from international trade.

Increased food security

Organic agriculture builds up stocks of natural, social and economic resources over time, thus reducing many of the factors that lead to food insecurity.

Full report here

Manor House Agricultural Centre, Kitale, Kenya

Training session for farmers
The Manor House Agricultural Centre was founded in 1984 in response to a three-year drought. The Centre's training and research complex includes demonstration gardens and livestock facilities that provide a working model of bio-intensive agricultural systems for trainees, visitors and members of local communities.

The Centre provides practical training to young people, farmers and staff of government agencies and NGOs, as well as conducting adaptive research. By 2005, over 70,000 Kenyans had been taught bio-intensive agriculture either directly or indirectly by the Centre.

The main impact has been on vegetable production. Many have doubled their yields by adopting double digging and composting techniques, using local natural methods of pest and disease control (such as planting sunflowers to attract predators, using local plant extracts to control maize stalk borer, and intercropping to reduce tomato blight). There have been big savings on pesticides, as farmers have cut out their use.

A former pupil at Manor House, Susan Wekesa, tells how learning to use bio-intensive farming methods has impacted on her life: "My 0.3 acres of land is producing plenty and healthy vegetables that bring money to knock at my door in the wee hours of the day. I mean, people come knocking at the door of my house before 6:00 a.m. wanting to buy vegetables. Apart from food and money for my family, I am able to fertilize my soil from material that it produces and supports. BIA has recreated hope in me and my household. I can now face the future proudly".

From UNCTAD report here

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