As it is popularly said, health is wealth. Nutrition is very cogent to human existence; people need healthy food, in terms of quality. Many modifications have been made to the crop and animal we eat, all with the aim of increasing yield and profit for the farmer but indirectly debilitating and deteriorating the immune system of the consumer of such produce. Some go as far as modifying the genetic make-up of the plant or animal, probably for some adaptive reasons and increase in productivity; all these are detrimental to human health and even deteriorate the farm produce quality, in terms of taste and nutrient composition.
The rate at which disease conditions are discovered is very alarming; people barely live healthy till their old age, they are always disturbed with one or more deadly diseases. Reminiscing the past, the early farmers lived longer and healthier; some at 70s still go to farm but nowadays we find it difficult to do such. Truly, technology has made everything easier and less herculean but we should not lose our life due to the comfort technology has enhanced. The rate at which we consume chemicals from the foods we eat is appalling. Virtually all the food we produce is through synthetic means; pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, to mention a few, are all chemical compounds which are detrimental to human health.
Some parts of the world, where farm produce are raised through synthetic means are now biting hard at their fingers, consider the havoc this invention has caused. They now clamor for organic farming, a system where food is produced in a natural and uncontaminated way, where resources are conserved and utilized simultaneously. Any synthetic practice can as well be implemented naturally; it used to be natural before modified in an unhealthy way. Organic farming is the means of eating quality and nutritious meal, to induce vigor back to the debilitated immune system, thus, increasing wellbeing and eradicating deadly diseases.
What is organic farming?
Organic farming is a system of cropping and livestock production that prohibits the use of synthetic farming aids such as: fertilizer, pesticides, growth hormones antibiotics, etc.; in the process of production. It is a type of farming that optimizes the productivity and fitness or wellness of the entities or communities comprising the agro-ecosystem. These entities include: soil, soil organisms, plants, livestock and people. All these relate together to form an ecosystem; it is very crucial to maintain a balance such that all the entities benefit from one another, such balance is an advantage of organic farming.
Organic farming is a poised kind of farming that allows effective and efficient utilization of farming resources. It is synonymous to the traditional system of farming but has an edge because of the technological and scientific knowledge involved.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of organic food?
All aspects or managerial practices of both crop production and livestock production can be done organically, especially in crop production. Starting from the pre-planting activities to post planting activities, they can be done organically and they have lots of advantages.
The conventional system of farming, that encourages the use of synthetic planting aids, permits you to use some chemically propounded material like apron plus to treat your seeds against pests or disease attack beneath the soil, to enhance quick growth and seedlings emergence. This is unhealthy!
Organically, you can do this and it will render the produce and planting procedures very healthy. There are some natural extracts from plant that can be used to protect your seeds from insect attack beneath the soil; such material includes neem tree extract and moringa leaves extract. Soaking your seeds in any of these two extracts protects the seeds from pest attack beneath the soil, also induces quick germination. This is a natural way of treating your seeds.
Conventional system of farming gives preference to synthetic fertilizers as a means of replenishing the soil nutrient, using this is temporary. The difference between an inorganic fertilizer and an organic fertilizer is that; inorganic fertilizers mineralize rapidly, that is, release nutrients, rapidly and increase the plant growth rapidly. But in the case of organic fertilizers, they mineralize slowly but are long acting, in the sense that they stay in the soil for a long period. Also, they help to improve the soil structure and conserve the soil moisture, thus, providing a conducive environment for planting.
Let me quickly draw your attention to this:
Do you know that crops grown with synthetic fertilizers do not attain maturity before harvesting?
They are harvested before maturity because they grow larger as a result of the synthetic fertilizers applied. However, crops grown under organic conditions attain full maturity before harvesting. This makes them healthy and nutritious.
Conventional farmers use synthetic herbicides to control weeds on the farm. This is unhealthy as it has several havocs it can induce. Crops can be injured or killed in the process of applying this herbicide; the farmer can as well be injured because, by default, synthetic herbicides are injurious in nature. Instead of going through this dicey task, organic farming has a more effective and beneficial approach to tackle weeds in a farm.
Mulching is a great way to control weed and as well conserve soil moisture; mulching with dry leaves add nutrients to the soil and as well conserve the soil moisture. This approach is very economical and beneficial as plants gain nutrient from the process of mulching. Also, planting cover crops like legumes helps to control weed and also replenishes the soil nutrients through the addition of nitrogen. Legumes are cowpea, soybean and groundnut; these three are cover crops and also have the potential of adding nutrients like nitrogen to the soil.
Crop protection is an important measure of ensuring a successful farming experience; pests are very common to plants and they are threats to successful farming. Most farmers tackle these threats inorganically; however, it can be tackled organically, in fact in a cost effective way because they are cheap but very effective. Controlling pests organically is very tactical, it involves several approaches. They are:
• Crop rotation:
This is the planting of different kinds of crop in a recurrent succession on the same piece of land. Rotating crops interrupts pest reproduction cycle, thus, eradicating pest from the farm. Crop rotation does not only control pest but also allow proper utilization of soil nutrients as rotated crops feed from different depths of the soil. In addition to the benefits of crop rotation, if legumes are included in the cycle; nitrogen is fixed in the soil, thus, replenishing the soil nutrients. Yam, maize, cowpea and cassava can be rotated on a plot.
• Planting companion and pest repellant plants:
These crops are naturally fashioned with some features that repel pest from the farm. Examples are: Marigold, the smell of marigold repels aphids from feeding on the plant; oregano plant repels any pest; pepper mints repel aphids, white flies, cabbage looper; radish repels cabbage maggot and cucumber beetle. All these plants are to be planted alongside the main plant.
• Use of naturally derived insecticide and fungicides:
There are some plants that have insecticide properties in them, the extracts of such plant can be used as insecticides. Such plants include: neem plant, chrysanthemum plant, which contains pyrethrums. Natural fungicides allowed for use on organic farms include the bacteria Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus pumilus. All these are purely organics
• Use of insect traps to reduce insect population.
• Proper sanitation removes pest habitats.
India have the highest number of organic farmers in the world; majority of the organic farmers are found in India, Uganda, Mexico, Peru, China, Thailand and Philippine.
Organic farming produces the healthiest crop; this system should be embraced, human wellness is more paramount to high yield or high profit. For a national to have low death rate and illness in her citizens, the food they eat has to be organic. The government should empower the farmers and arrange proper orientation program about the benefits and technical know-how of organic farming. This is a sure way to reduce the emergence of deadly diseases. Let’s embrace organic farming.