A few months ago I visited the Yasofman farmers group in the dry Yatta area in Kenya, on the road to Somalia. As customary we started the visit to the farmers by a meeting with selected leaders in their dark office in the trading centre, to get some information and be properly greeted before taking to the field.
|Joseph Manyala from the Yasofman group|
Joseph Manyala, demonstrated the progress of the group with his own body. He proudly recounted that before they started their work in organic his weight was just 50 kg. Even for a slim Kenyan that is clearly not enough! But now, with the organic project he has gained 25 kg and thus has more or less the ideal weight for his stature. I found this a very direct and concrete measure of progress and the relevance of organic for food security.
The way it works is like this. With organic production there is more variety in the production and thus also in the diet of the farm families. The diversity caters for a more resilient system as well. Even if there is a spell of bad weather some crops will do better than others. Also, with organic production, crops can withstand drought better. Finally, if the farmer are also able to access a better market they can increase their income. And income is the strongest factor for food security in a farming system which is already integrated into markets. Income means ability to buy missing food, to invest in production, e.g. buying a cow, develop irrigation etc.
The movie below is from three different organic groups in East Africa, of which the Yatta group is one. Watch it, seeing is believing.
The movie was made by the IFOAM OSEA project (for which I am the Project Leader). If you want more facts and details there are several interesting reports to download on the OSEA project web site. E.g. a study on productivity in organic farming concludes that:
“The limited literature available clearly points to significant yield increases when Organic Agriculture practices are used to improve low input conventional traditional agriculture in East Africa.”
And a consumer survey shows that:
“Once the respondents are exposed to the definition of organic, an overwhelming majority (93%) felt that indeed eating organic products is good and most of them also agreed that it would be very important to know whether what they consume is organic or not.”