National Secretary of Association of Organic Practitioners of Nigeria, Mrs Olayinka Odukoya who runs an organic farm called Dasyooh Farm Limited in Ogun State, gives an expose on the essentials of organic farming saying that the environment is key. She pointed out that though the practice is relatively new, those who are joining may not be putting the environment first, in this interview with PAUL OMOROGBE .
What organic farming entails
Organic agriculture has some major principles which are health, ecology, that is the environment, the environment of the farmer, the environment of the consumer of your goods, the care of the environment, care of the farmer and care of the people who are consumers. So, basically organic is all about you and your environment. This could be in animal husbandry, or crops but the environment is very key. That is the major thing.
Why choose organic agriculture?
Number one is the health issue. I have had people with health challenges, and at the end of the day, the major thing they would tell them is change you diet. When you are talking about diet you are talking about food – what do you eat? Where is it coming from? What is the source? How is your food grown? These are the questions we don’t ask ourselves. We eat anything and presently that is boomeranging in the nation where you have cancer and different kinds of diseases, with no age barrier – that is the saddest thing about it. That is why I said why don’t we do organic agriculture, that is good for the environment and health.
Has it been easy?
No. Number one, the major problem in organic agriculture is weeds. How do I take care of the weeds. Then the people involved. How many Nigerians believe that there is organic produce. Presently, people are getting to know, but the major challenge now is that people who are not privy to anything organic now claim to be organic (farmers). So how do we separate the one who are genuine from the ones who are not genuine? Where is the sincerity? That’s another problem in organic agriculture today. So many farmers are springing up saying I am organic. But the only thing they believe in organic is putting chicken poo on their farms. But organic farming is not like that.
Essentials of organic farming
Organic agriculture comes with standards. The major standard is that the perimeter you are going to take from any corner the minimum is one plot from any farm. So the for angles of your farm must be one plot away from the other ones. So that whether your neighbour is using fertiliser or anything chemical, there will be a breaker round the farm. That is number one standard. Then it is not allowed at all in cropping to use any artificial chemicals – NPK, urea, there is nothing like that! So, you have to create your fertiliser. In our farm, we have a ranch, we have chickens, goats and rams. Their excrement is what we compose into the fertiliser that we use. As an organic farmer, your environment must be able to satisfy you (your farming needs). But 80 per cent of the people claiming organic don’t know. Sincerely, as an organic farmer you don’t need to buy anything. It must be created from your farm.
Dealing with weeds organically
Dealing with weeds. The number one thing is that we do mulching, we do throw back. Throw-back is as soon as we weed, we put the weeds in nylon bags. After three days we spread them back on the farm. The best way to weed which we have discovered on our own farm is that it is better to weed as soon as they emerge.
And we developed as special hoe for that purpose that works like a rake; and that has been a great way of solving the weed problem.