PRESENTATION ONE: HOW TO GO ORGANIC
BY MR OYEWOLE GBADAMOSI
1.0 What is Organic Agriculture?
According to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) Organic Agriculture (OA) is defined as a holistic production management system which enhancesagro ecosystem health utilizing both traditional and scientific knowledge. It is a system that relies more on available inputs. Organic agriculture is usually misunderstood to be natural/traditional farming but OA is more than that because it does not only relies on local inputs but also relies on scientific knowledge implying that innovation and external inputs is allowed.
Organic Agriculture has standards and they are various rudiments of organic agriculture for crop and livestock production. There is a manual on standards of organic agriculture production which was reviewed four years ago and will be reviewed again next year.Organic agriculture must be gotten right from the start to avoid use of preventive methods; ignorance in organic agriculture is not an excuse. Summary of items on this manual were discussed.
2.0PRINCIPLES OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE
Organic Agriculture is premised on four principles:
- Principle of Health
- Principle of Ecology
- Principle of Fairness and
- Principle of Care.
These principles are the foundation of any organic agriculture practise.
2.1 Principle of Health: These principle point out to the fact that health of individuals and communities cannot be sepreted from the health of the ecosystem: Healthy soils produce healthy crops for healthy humans and health. In Nigeria this is the sellling point of organic agriculture because organic foods contains more antioxidants which deetoxifies the body. Organic agriculture aims at producing high quality food that contribute to nutritive health and well being, in view of this it should avoid the use of synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, food additives that may have adverse effect on health.
2.2 Principle of Ecology: Organic agriculture must be ecology friendly. Production should be based on recycling, that is most of our fertilizers used should be products of recycling/natural processes. OA should attain ecological balance via design of farm, establishment of habitat and maintainance of genetic and agricultural biodiversity.agricultural practises should not dwell only on adoption of recommendations but must adapt based on the ability of any ecosystem. For instance in switzerland importation of organic products into the country must be shipped not air-lifted because when air lifted it is believed to contain more Co2 gas which may lead to further depletion of the ozone layer.
2.3 Principle of Fairness: This ensures fairness at all levels of production for all the stakeholders in the value chain from producer to consumer. For intance goods are bought/sold at fair prices with no cheating.
2.4 Principle of Care: organic agriculture practises preventive agriculture rather than responsive agriculture,implying that extreme care must be considered. Preventive is the key concern in management and technology choice in OA. Organic agriculture should prevent significant risk by adopting and adapting appropriate technology and rejecting unpredictable ones especially genetic enjineering. Any product one cannot trace the source should not be used.
Land that has been fallowed for at least three years is recommended for organic agriculture production but if the land is still in cultivation with in organic inputs, then it must be cultivated with natural inputs for at least three years for conversion to an organic farm. During the three years of conversion the produce gotten from such farms is regarded as natural produce. This principle on land is applicable to both arable and plantation crops, but if it is a virgin land there is no need for the conversion period.
3.2. Buffer Zone.
A buffer zone must be set of about forty meters (40m) radius round your farm to avoid contaminations/pollution of inorganic inputs from neighbouring farms except the farmer is surrounded by organic farmers.Cultivation of crops must not be carried out within the 40m radius thou if carried out cannot be regarded as organic produce. This gives the differencebetween an ecological farm, a home garden and an organic farm. It is advisable for organic farmers to buy land together to reduce the amount of land used as buffer zone compared to when it is an individual farm.
3.3 Land clearing: land clearing should be done manually or with machineries that have been used in cultivating organic farm only. Bush burning is not allowed because of its adverse effect on the soil ecosystem through the loss of soil microrganisms and rapid volatilization of nutrients. Organic agriculture encourages maintenance/sustenance of soil inherent properties than use of input for maintenance.
3.4. Seed Sources
Seeds used for organic agriculture must not be gotten from Genetically Modified Plant or any other inorganic sources. However seeds gotten from inorganic sources (except GMO sources) can be cultivated naturally for at least three(3) years before it can be regarded as an organic seed, implying that by this type the influence of inorganic inputs on the seeds would be no more.
Locally untreated seeds can also be cultivated for a while and then used as an organic source for seed.
There are natural ways of cleansing treated seeds and turning it organic:
- Soaking seeds in warm water for about thirty minutes then rinse seeds with water.
- If it’s a plant that can be raised in a nursery, choose the nursery to be on trays or pots where the soils can easily be discarded before it is transplanted into the field.
Wood ash can be used to treat the seeds organically against fungicide.
The source of farm manure must be from organic farms. Fertilizers should not be applied from fourteen days before the harvesting date. Fresh poultry manure must not be used as a source of manure except it is used as one of the materials for composting. Poultry manure should always be used when it is cured. Human/pig/dog/cat droppings cannot be used as an organic source of manure because they have a complex digestive system and if inorganic substances were consumed it may take a very long time for it to be broken down/digested, therefore it is advised for it to be totally avoided.
3.6 Pesticides and Herbicides
Local adaptive methods are used to control pesticides, there are organic pesticides such neem plant where extracts from parts of these plants are used as pesticides:Neem leaves/tree back are soaked in cold water for days such the active ingredients in the leaves/ tree back are extracted into the water (1 kg of plant part to 10 litres of water) or the leaves/tree back can be put into boiling water and cooked for thirty minutes then the extract is used as pesticides. The extract is more effective if grinded dry chilli pepper is added to it. However neem seed oil is more efficient than the other part because it contains higher concentration of the active ingredient at 10ml to 1 litre of water. There are no organic herbicides in the country but proper management practices can be used such as intensive tillage to remove roots of stubborn weed before planting, hoe/hand weeding, use of weeding machines such as weed slashers, cover cropping, inter cropping, increased planting density for crops that can tolerate that, use of plstic mulch, etc. it should be noted that implements used in an organic farm cannot be used in an organic farm.
4.0. Organic Livestock Production
The major constraint of organic livestock production is that most sources of antibiotics, vaccines and feed are from inorganic source. In organic poultry production extracts of moringa leaf, bitter leaf, aloe Vera and marigold are used as sources of antibiotics and there are also other indigenous knowledge of poultry vaccines. Due to the physiology of birds, for optimum and organic production management systems must allow for free movement of birds to stroll and fly. Farmers can raise feed ingredient organically. The use of methionine and mycine as a source of fish feed serves as a constraint to organic aquaculture as there are no substitute organic inputs discovered.
Rearing/cultivation of organic honey bee entails keeping a buffer zone of about three kilometers (3km) radius around where the bee hives are kept so that when the bees go to get their food is still within the organic field.
4.1. Ranch Management
The ranch in which animals graze or their feed is gotten from must be organically managed from sources of planting material to harvest to ensure a complete organic animal production. Varieties must be used
5.0. What Makes a Farm Organic?
A farm is considered organic after taking into consideration all that is discussed above and also acquiring a certification for identification and trust of the produce gotten by the consumer. Therefore what makes any product/produce organic is standards/certification and when this is gotten right there are labels attached to this product for easy identification. Certification of an organic farm comes in three (3) levels:
- Individual certification
- Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) certification and
- Third party certification
Individual certification entails being recommended by people as an organic practioner, it could be neighbors/people in the same community or locality, friends, acquaintances, etc.
PGS is a form of certification in which there is an agreement between all the stakeholders in the agriculture chain (the farmer, the certification body, the researchers the middle man and the consumer) who are bonded by rules and common vision. PGS helps in improving the farmer’s production capacity, advocacy, marketing and certification/standardization. An example of PGS certification group in Nigeria is National Association of Organic Practitioners (NOAN) which has been in operation since 2009 has her head office in Ibadan and has the capacity to operate throughout the country. PGS also makes third party certification easy for the farmer. The third party certification certifies farm produce for exportation purposes.
6.0 Feed Back
- How do NOAN ascertain the quality of a flowing water used in organic farm? Mrs. Udonyah
- What if a farmer has issue with his source of water and goes for an alternative which is contaminated, how does NOAN identify that?By MfonOnunkak
- Could brewery waste be used for fertilizer seeing that it has been synthetically processed? By Mr. Abara
- How long can poultry manure be kept to cure before used as fertilizer? By Victor Edame
- Is organic certification different from NAFDAC and SON certification? By MrBakare
- What if a farmer has fence round the farm, is the buffer zone still necessary? By MrBakare
- Composting human waste and sawdust obtainable in organic agriculture? By Mr. Abara
- Neem seed oil, are there methods of extracting it locally?
- The water is analysed from time to time during inspection, however flowing water is preferable to be used in organic agriculture than stagnant water.
- The farmer must always show the certification body its alternate source of water, however if emergency cases comes up the farmer must be careful on his alternate sources of water because if discovered during inspection, his/her certificate will be withdrawn. Ignorance is not an excuse.
- Brewery waste is seen to be an effective organic fertilizer source when composted, because the process of composting helps to break down pathogenic and synthetic contaminations. However, any fertilizer that has nitrogen content more than 5% cannot be used as an organic fertilizer.
- Poultry manure should be kept to cure for eight weeks or composted before using it. Fresh poultry manure if applied immediately releases more nitrogen but decreases the storability of such product due to excess No2.
- Organic certification is different from NAFDAC or SON certification because these institutions are more concerned about hygiene certification than health or ecosystem sustainability, there are products imported into the country with NAFDAC number that are not health conducive for consumption. National organic standards are higher because when this standards were drafted the SON and NAFDAC were represented and part of their standards are included in the organic standards.
- If the fences are high then it may be permitted because the essence of the buffer zone is to avoid pollution with inorganic inputs by any form of erosion.
- Human, dog and pig waste is not allowed in organic agriculture because the metabolism of their digestive system does not allow for easy breakdown of chemical contaminants even after three months.
- Victor Edame defined organic agriculture as the non-use of organic fertilizer
- Organic agriculture ensures the safety and health of soil, plants, humans and animals – Mrs. Benedict.
- Sadiq defined organic agriculture simply as a form of agriculture that uses non synthetic inputs.
- Abara suggested that NOAN should make a list of all inputs that are seen as organic and make them available to members to avoid members defaulting the standards.
- Mrs suggested that neem extracted can also be used to soak planting materials such as cassava stems to prevent termite attack when planted.
- Mrs Benedict said that neem oil can be extracted locally, farmers blend them, cook them till the oil settles on the top of the water, the oil is then extracted and dehydrated of water. Then the oil is fit for use.
Ignorance in organic agriculture is not an excuse therefore good knowledge to organic agricultural practices is required for sustainable agriculture by enhancing livelihoods, income, export and foreign exchange earnings and reduced rural-urban migration. Any farmer going into organic production must have a ready market already for his/ her produce. The use of only organic approved methodologies must be used for handling and production in an organic farm.