Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Organic farming in Africa

James Shikwati writes:

Kenyan peasants (and by extension over 70% of Africa's farming population) already practice organic farming. They cannot access technology, fertilizer, pesticides, and quality seeds but heavily depend on the 'will of nature' to harvest their crops. Our farmers use hand-held back-breaking hoes, and are exposed to hot sun rays 6 hours per day (on average) in order to finally deliver ugali (maize meal )on the table. We are starving precisely because we practice organic farming albeit inadvertently!
It's a good piece, touching on attempts by westerners to impose organic farming in Africa:
I came across an interesting internet posting that read thus: "Starved by the rich: the cult of organic food imposed on Africa." The writer, Waldo Vanderhaeghen, argues that wealthy countries are blocking biotechnological progress from deprived regions like Africa by giving incentives that make it difficult for peasants to access technology. The organic 'cult' members, according to Waldo, are basically anti-technology.They abhor use of pesticides, large industrial farms and seek to consume locally grown food to avoid a 'large carbon foot print.' (This means soon, you will not export far and wide lest you violate the foot print!)
and lamenting the lack of access to biotechnology and interest in developing agricultural production of indigenous African plants.


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