In Part II, we looked at how we became well settled in “modern” farming, enthusiastically embracing not only very efficient, mechanised cultivation but also “improved” coded seed and a wide array of chemical products that seemed to answer to every imaginable cropping problem.
But then, we have observed, in recent years, the emergence of a new vocabulary and seemingly a new movement.
Our ears are being disturbed with words like “organic,” phrases like “climate change” and more words like “greening.”
All of this is coming from the same place as all the wonderful things we have learnt and come to rely on the past few decades.
We are told that we are hurting Mother Earth with industrial agriculture.
By uprooting trees and clearing huge swathes of land and deep ploughing the soil, we are creating very unwelcome climate change.
That we are upsetting ecological balance – weather patterns are getting terribly altered.
Further, that the engineered seed and generous helpings of chemical compounds we are dousing our soils with are not contributing to a green earth but laying it to waste.
That we are, in fact, in the very act of applying all those wonder-working chemicals, murdering millions of living organisms both in the top and sub soil.
And these organisms–ranging from bacteria, worms to small animals –are actually the definition of “living” soil.
Also, we are told that some of the life-style diseases we are encountering frequently now – a lot that were “alien” previously – are easily traceable to our new agricultural practices.
That, what is now landing on our dining tables is not only greatly devoid of vital nutrients but also transferring more than a generous measure of the same chemicals we spray into our fields right into our bodies.
Is all this true? Unfortunately… it is!
This is why in the West a movement of organic agriculture has sprung up.
From the heavy industrial agriculture that has been sold so well to us, they are now advocating a “return to nature;” small family farms, nil or minimum till, no chemical use, no long-distance shipping of fresh foods, minimum processed foods.
Organic agriculture has created a robust niche market.
Health-conscious people are prepared to pay thrice as much for organically-produced food.
Health is wealth that is the catch phrase. Eat well, preserve your health! Run back to earthy, primary foods grown in deep, naturally-fertilised soil.
Consume a lot of leafy, fresh green vegetables, enjoy all variety of fruit of the season direct from the tree.
Let us examine our own situation here in the third world. How big is our problem?
Fortunately, not so big, particularly if we look at it from the viewpoint of recovery.
As observed earlier, we have really only embraced “modern” agricultural practices in the last four decades. Even then, we have advanced nowhere near our Western counterparts.
If we pick land clearance for example, indeed we have done quite some damage, more in some areas than others (I immediately think of Southern Province here). Overall though, the damage is not so bad as to give us the infamous “dust bowl” effect.
If we applied brakes now and began going green by preserving and replanting trees even in the worst affected areas, we could easily recover.
The next step is to stop peppering the land with chemicals.
Yes, you heard right – a complete stop.
From this too, the land does recover.
Mother Nature listens and obliges.
Granted, it will not be instant.
Depending on level of damage and recovery interventions taken, it could take anywhere between three and six seasons to coax land back to its virgin status.
This could even include fallowing whole seasons. It therefore needs plenty of planning and spadefuls of patience.
There could be one big question.
If we went back to organic methods of farming, how do we compensate for the higher productivity we got used to?
This question allows us to bust one myth – that the “modern” farming methods come with higher productivity.
Not necessarily, not really.
It is much more accurate to describe that as “instant, more spectacular results” and nothing more.
However, even those are not sustained over the long haul.
There will be instant, spectacular results but with time, the productivity starts dropping drastically.
The dying soil will need more and more artificial support while giving less and less output until eventually it will not be able to give anything at all, even after inputs are doubled or trebled.
It is much like taking an energy drink.
There will be an instant but short burst of energy, and then suddenly it will be gone.
That is exactly what chemicals do to your precious agricultural land. That is why you have to keep going back for more and more.
Above all of this, the most critical part is the bottom line.
When we get back to green, we do not only preserve our land and our climate as well as grow healthy food but also increase our profitability!
Yes… we cut out all the needless expenses of artificial inputs, relying entirely on free, authentic inputs from Mother nature and therefore producing at very low cost.
Low cost always means more profit.
Let us get back to green – it makes a lot of business sense!
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