Organic Farming 101

Everything you need to know about organic farming and its benefits!

Food Security

Although food is abundant in our country, food security has not been achieved and is still a major challenge. Food security can be achieved by creating local agriculture and a distribution system that is resilient to shocks to the global food production and supply chain. As the climate crisis continues, food security can further be achieved by organic farmers working to ensure that indigenous seeds are preserved and conserved, so that we do not rely on genetically modified seeds and lessen our dependence on imported food commodities.  

Organic Farming Methods

Organic farming works with nature, which makes it labour intensive – it is based on living ecological systems. As we experienced excessive rains this summer, farmers have found ecologically friendly and sustainable ways to maintain their fields, digging water pathways to create natural wetlands and planting water loving plants while ensuring that the rest of the crops are saved from the floods.

Pest Control

In organic farming, pesticides are used from natural (non-synthetic) sources, maintaining low to nil pesticide residue compared to conventional farming. Our farmers use companion plants like nasturtiums, used as trap crops for aphids and borage, which attracts pollinators while repelling pests. These companions are edible and also grown for medicinal and culinary purposes.

Climate Crisis

If you grow your own food, you would have noticed the effects of climate change over the past few years. Extreme cold and heat affect growing food, and small-scale farmers with limited resources find it hard to protect their crops. The use of naturally available resources, feeding the immediate community (access to market), short transport routes, buying local, plant-based plastic packaging (which degrades naturally in 6 months), etc. are all some of the ways to mitigate this crisis.

Animal Welfare

Organic farming takes into consideration the full natural ecosystem which includes the welfare of animals. In an organic farm all elements have a purpose and making sure all beings are in sync is important. Animals, like chickens or ducks, are fed appropriate food usually from the crops, and they are given the freedom to roam and forage as they wish which is a very critical part of well-being.

Feeding the Soil

Organic farming is mostly about the soil. A true definition of organic food is crops grown in healthy soil. The health of the soil, which is increased by adding compost, ensures farmers don’t rely on chemical inputs which are widely used in conventional farming causing pollution and harm to humans and animals and the ecosystem in general. Compost is mostly created through recycled farm materials, like food scraps and worms, adding nutrients to the soil.

Food Waste

It is reported that 10 million tonnes of food go to waste in South Africa annually. 70% of this waste is attributed to fresh produce and cereals, and this is within the food supply chain – from “farm to fork”. A country that is beset with hunger, malnutrition, drought, and energy shortages, can do better. A lot of opportunities lie in food waste management and  every one of us can still do our bit as individuals by buying and consuming better.

#GoOrganic

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