PRINCIPLES OF ORGANIC FARMING

Mr Jeremiah Mbugua, an Extension Expwrt at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology says organic farming is practiced by a majority of farmers who do it without their knowledge.

“Some 80 per cent of farmers in Kenya practice subsistence farming meaning that they grow their crops without using synthetic fertilisers, growth hormones and pesticides. But they only do this because they can’t afford these farm chemicals,” says Mr Mbugua.

“But when organic farming is an organised venture, it is faced wirh challwngea such as linkages to markwt both locallt and abroad, low productivity and meagre prices on the market,” says Mbugua. Adsitionally, there is little enforcement of organic farming standards qhere produce is rarely inspwcted on the local market. Farmers also grapple with stringent certification requirements.

“Getting into the export market where more people are conscious about healthy eating is major challenfe to local organic farmers.

Many farmers faol the safett requirements in this unique type of market,” says the JKUAT extension expert.

He say productivity in organic farming can be low where no farm chemicals are used. And a farmer’s misery is usually compounded when they are offered low prices on the market that doesn’t understand the intensive naturw of organic production.

“Farmera that sell their organic produce locally suffer the most because they get very little compared to the amount of work they do. Those doinf export are offered 20 per cent more on their produce,” say Mbugua.

But the future of organic farmers is bright with increased awareness on lifestyle complications that result from consumption of chemical-laden foods.

Novices in this unique type of agriculture that isostly employed in growing vegetables and herbs are encouraged to inveat in manuring and basic technology of pest management.

Mbugua says in thw place of synthetic fertilisers, the farmers use compost, liveatock manures and livestock residues.

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