Zero Hunger Commodity Farmers Association (ZHCFA) recently held a meeting in Abuja after which they called for exclusive use of organic fertilisers for the production of those fruits and vegetables that are consumed without being processed because of the health implications.
This was contained in a communiqué issued and signed by Dr. Tunde Arosanyin, the National Coordinator of the group, in Ilorin last Sunday.
He said the association resolved to train farmers on post-harvest handling of produce, particularly on the use of dichorophos to preserve beans. It expressed concern over the dearth of agriculture extension officers for the training farmers on technology application.
To encourage increased food production to feed the teeming population governments often assist farmers to use farm inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and other agro-chemicals.
Many are beginning to associate the rising cases of some ailments such as cancer, stroke, cardiac and kidney diseases to chemical deposits in some of the foods they eat. They are therefore increasingly turning to eating foods devoid of harmful chemical contents hence the allure of organic farming.
Organic farming is all about planting of crops and rearing of animals in natural ways. It is about production of crops and livestock using natural nutrients such as compost, crop residues and natural manure. It also involves natural methods of weeding and irrigation as well. The farmer relies on natural rain or harvest and stored rainwater for irrigation during dry months. The use of only biological materials ensures that soil fertility and ecological balance are maintained to minimise pollution and wastage.
In organic farming, the farmer uses manure made up of wastes such as animal droppings, vegetable remains, dry leaves, ash and bones as source of nutrients to cultivate maize, beans, cassava, bananas, tomatoes and other food crops all year round. He does not use petrochemical fertilizers to provide nutrients for his crops.
The farmer removes weeds physically in the farm. He may however use a flame weeder to get rid of the weeds or get his animals to eat them up.
He also uses ecologically balanced agricultural principles and methods such as crop rotation, green manure, and biological pest control to produce his crops.
He avoids the use of pesticides, synthetic or inorganic agro-chemicals to control pests and weeds.
Organic farming comes with some advantages. Foods from organic farms contain essential nutrients such as vitamins, enzymes, minerals and other micronutrients for healthy living. For instance, when natural manure is applied in crop production, it continually enriches the soil with necessary nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen and phosphorous for plant growth.
Chemical based fertilizers rather destroy natural nutrients and lasts only for a short while in the ground.
Other benefits are that organic farming increases soil fertility, controls pests and diseases and saves the environment from chemical deposits.
It also keeps ground water clean and safe for human consumption and saves the farmer the money that would have been used on expensive farm inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and other agro-chemicals.
Most importantly, produce from organic farming are more nutritious. The ugu leaves produced with natural manure serves as blood tonic unlike the ones produced with fertilizers.
Organic farm produce have longer shelf life. For instance, yams produced with fertilizers rot easily while the ones produced with organic manure last until the next planting season. The overall advantage in organic farming is that the farmer produces safe and nutritious foods that fetch better prices in the market.
Experts have also warned on the consequences of using detergents to wash vegetables for immediate consumption. Dr. Ikechi Agbugba, a vegetable and fruit expert, recently warned against traders and food vendors using detergents to wash fruits, vegetables, root tubers and nuts.
Agbugba explained that the danger is that the membranes or cover of the fruits, vegetables, root tubers and nuts are porous and when soaked in water or liquids, absorb easily and the use of detergents to wash them is hazardous.
“This habit has been going on for long and needs to be stopped. It is common sight today at street corners and road side markets, fruit vendors scrubbing fruits inside soapy containers as if they are washing jean trousers. When you confront them, they will tell you it was the only way to wash off the soil dirt from the fruits.
He advised, “Using clean water and local sponge is okay and enough to remove the dirt and any residue from the soil. When soaked in soapy water, the fruits absorbed the chemicals through the porous membrane making them unfit for consumption.”
It is for the same reasons that Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture, recently warned traders against using sniper and other chemicals to preserve beans.
Growing and nurturing of crops and rearing of animals without the use of chemical based fertilizers, pesticides and feeds should be your unique selling point. Print flyers enumerating the gains of organically produced crops and livestock and reach out to shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, schools and hospitals. You would be surprised at the amount of patronage you would get. You must, however, ensure that you do not deviate from your offering to use chemically based inputs. The moment customers have doubts about your produce, you business would surely pack up.
Researchers collected and tested vegetables, fruits, and grains from both organic farms and inorganic farms and have concluded that food items from organic farms are more nutritious, tastier and healthier.
You can create fabulous wealth by making a difference. Invest in organic farming today to reap from the new income opportunities it offers.