Tuesday, 6 September 2016

A CLARION CALL TO EMBRACE ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN NIGERIA

Organic Agriculture is the production system in agriculture that avoids synthetic chemicals but uses or­ganic materials thereby promot­ing soil health and biodiversity, in addition involving low stress treatment of animals and plants with sound environmental prac­tices.


Organic agriculture is en­joying growing acceptance in many advanced countries. Nige­ria should join in the crusade on the massive use or application of organic agriculture. In August, 1996 over 1,000 delegates from 92 countries participated in the 11th International Scientific Con­ference on Organic Agriculture which was held in Denmark.

The promotion of organic ag­riculture, protection of environ­ment, quality and safety of food and local self –reliance are es­sential elements of food securi­ty. Organic agriculture ensures the long term security of human and material resources, produc­ing sufficient food of high quality while protecting the environment and conserving biodiversity.

In other words, organic agri­culture is non-chemical agri­culture, which is now gaining popularity in Europe and Amer­ica. Other developing countries including Nigeria should join the crusade in the practice of non-chemical agriculture. The Food and Agriculture organiza­tion (FAO) had encouraged local organic fertilizer during the Na­tional Program for Food Secu­rity (NPFS) activities in Nigeria.

Nigerian farmers are hence­forth advised to go into non-chemical agriculture. At this junction it is necessary to high­light some advantages of organ­ic agriculture:
1. Compost fertilizer appli­cation to the soil acts as host and source of food to the growing plants and promotes the activi­ties of living creatures in the soil such as earthworms, termites etc.
2. It improves soil structure because colloidal materials in them help to bind loose soil par­ticles.
3. It helps to conserve soil moisture and reduces rapid soil temperature fluctuations.
4. Mineralization of humus adds nutrients to the soil which will lead to an increase in plant yield.
5. It contributes in balanc­ing the acid/base condition of the soil.
6. It helps in preventing soil erosion because it improves the structure of the soil and reduces the speed of run-off.
7. Generally, the use of or­ganic agriculture has the answer for the safe and international­ly accepted foodstuff. Products from organic agriculture are saf­er and non-toxic to soil and hu­man beings.
8. Commercial produc­tion and use of compost ma­nure would help to improve ag­riculture and the economy. It can boost food production, farmer’s revenue and at the same time provide sound environment pro­tection. However, one major dis­advantage of the use of organic manure like poultry manure is that you consider the quantity of the material to use which is al­ways very large and bulky. For in­stance you may use about 500kg of poultry manure to serve al­most the same purpose as 50kg (one bag) of inorganic fertilizer like N.P.K. 20.10.10.

We are proud of our Indige­nous Knowledge Technologies. (IKT). We can use organic materials to store dry seeds like maize, cowpea (beans). The dried guava and neem leaves can be reduced by grinding into powdery form and use to store maize or beans. Also dry ground neem leaves mixed with hot pepper for storing beans in air tight containers can equal­ly be used. Other Indigenous Knowledge Technologies in­clude dressing seed yams with palm bunch ash against fungal attack before planting and the use of palm bunch ash to rub on bruised yam to avoid de­cay.

These are biological or or­ganic applications. Many parts of neem tree can be used- the leaves, seed kernel and the bark. The entire neem tree (Dogonya­ro) has bitter properties but the most effective in repelling in­sects is the seed kernel. It can control many insects like maize weevil, rice weevil and cowpea (beans) weevils etc. it is on re­cord that neem tree has been used for many years in India for controlling insect-pests in farms, in the households and even in public health.

In Nigeria we cannot talk of organic agriculture without talking about farm yard manure like sheep and goat faeces, cattle and pig dungs, poultry manure etc. The integration of animals into crop production systems will make available to the farm­er almost a free supply of ferti­lizer. The faeces, urine and oth­er metabolic waste products of domestic animals can all be uti­lized effectively in the prepara­tion of farmyard manure. In ad­dition, organic agriculture must make for extensive practice of composting (compost manure). Composting is thus the process of rotting down of plants and animal remains in heaps before the residue is applied to the soil. (Authority)