Sunday, February 24, 2013

Organic agriculture spreads in East Africa

“When I use chicken manure that I produce from my poultry farming I am able to get 5 tons of Irish potatoes on one hectare while I use to get not more than 2 tons per hectare using chemical fertilizers. And my products are the most favored on the market and consumed before others. The price doesn’t matter, people like high quality products,” said Jean Marie Vianney Ngiruwonsanga, an organic farmer of Rulindo District,
Muhondo Sector in Rwanda.

“What struck me about the whole idea of organic farming is that with my little farm space, I could grow enough food to feed my family and supply to the market. And that is without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides that are expensive these days,” says Sally Niaisiae, an elderly mother of six in the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya

Jennifer Kigunda's one acre land is divided into several portions, growing maize, various vegetables, and different potatoes varieties. Previously she would only grow maize and beans –the two most popular food crops with subsistence farmers in Kenya mainly grown using conventional farming methods.
“I would harvest on average six 90-kg bags of maize from the farm and on average three bags of beans,” she said. With her small family, she prefers to sell most of the harvest, fetching around 400 U.S. dollars per season, meaning she would make on average double that amount per year from the sale of surplus harvest.
But since the change to organic farming, Kigunda’s family income has increased tremendously as the sale of organic food from her farm brings in on averaged, 200 dollars per a three month season meaning that in a year, she now makes at least 3,600 dollars a year from her one acre farm, a 450 percent increase.
“We have a ready market for organic foods and we get a premium price for it at the market. What else would a farmer look for?” she asked.
Typical diverse production of African smallholder
 Organic farming proves again and again that it is capable of producing healthy and safe food in sufficient quantities, not only for the rich.  I have written about it in many blog posts here, e.g. 
Growing with love and care, Organic agriculture grows in Africa
People, Planet and Prosperity-organic agriculture as a development concept
But I also emphasis that, in the end, economic factors are determining who will eat and who will be hungry. Read: Markets don't distribute food to those without money
Read more stories from Kenya organic farming on Coast week

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