Archive for December, 2013


Photo contest on Family farming

Image

What a way of promoting farming!! Organizing competitions serves well in promoting a course on which they are organized – in this context, agriculture. The International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) highlights the decisive role of family farming in the sustainable production of 80% of the world’s food and in the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity. The IYFF-2014 photo competition collects visual expressions to build stronger recognition and support for family farming, and encourage broad participation in the IYFF.

KEY DATES;

  • The deadline for entries is 1 May 2014
  • The winning photos will be announced in October 2014

For more information on the contest visit the organizers’ site here

What would have happened had our great great fathers ways of farming had not been tampered with? They used no chemicals, practiced mixed farming, left land to regenerate naturally and valued trees….they practiced organic farming. Things have changed with all manner of chemicals and technologies being used on the farms and it’s said that all these were introduced to enhance the farming system’s productivity. Did our grand fathers not produce enough without them? While I have no doubt about these good intentions, am deeply worried about the unfolding trends with current farming practices. Never than before, we are plagued by unending droughts and famine, farmers complain of low yields and the ever increasing demand chemical fertilizers and pesticides – where subsequent usage has to be higher than the previous one for the same results. How is this sustainable?

Effects of drought

And in an otherwise familiar trend, which many now fear could turn into a culture of sorts, diplomats and international celebrities in large 4x4s make their way into plagued hamlets to start the seemingly familiar and never-ending array of international aid appeals and humanitarian campaigns for the hunger stricken populace. Would we be here had we not adopted the conventional farming practices? I would say no.

Organic agriculture is the way to go. It uses techniques such as green manure, compost and natural pest control to maintain soil productivity, it has the potential to help farmers attain food security for their families, cut down on cost of inputs therefore saving more, and hence lessen their dependence on aid while ensuring environmental sustainability.

Is nature to blame or ourselves?

Men cut down a tree for timber

“……….. if we destroy the environment through destroying indigenous forests, nature is very unforgiving; it will fight back with catastrophic consequences” – once said Kenya’s Wangari Maathai. and now we blame almost everything on the nature. We say climate change is to blame for the low yields on our farms, it is because of it that we have prolonged droughts and devastating floods and some people go to the extend of blaming God. But where exactly did things start going bad? It all started when human kind became greedy and started getting from nature more than he needs and more than nature it can replenish itself. In all these, nature is only hitting back at us after what we’ve done to it. We the people are to blame for all these disasters we are experiencing. We have forgotten that the society has a role to play. It is very true that human forces are the ones making people increasingly vulnerable to nature’s vagaries. The society (mostly human institutions and policies) select who to get the basic resources,that is,only those who can afford it have the advantage while the hard times only hit the poorest. A majority of persons live on the brink of disaster as a result of being deprived off natural resources upon which they depend by the powerful few.

We should stop blaming nature because you and I have the sole responsibility of ensuring that we take measures to mitigate against these calamities. The solution to these calamities lies in sustainable lifestyles –that is, transforming our preferences and efficiently use the available resources without over-exploiting the planet. At the same time sustainable lifestyles should not compromise the standard of living but, instead, allow everybody on the planet to live comfortably. We can make things work for ourselves without blaming nature.

Water is one of the essential compounds for life and a scarce resource in the same measure. It’s said that this essential commodity occupies almost 75% of the earth’s surface but it’s quite ironical that with this kind of abundance water would still be referred to with an adjective like scarce or even the word drought should exist. Ironical or not, there is no sufficient fresh and clean water for consumption. Most of the water accessible to mankind has been polluted and become unfit for consumption. Besides pollution other factors exacerbating the situation are the cutting down of water catchment areas such as forests and reclamation of water bodies in order to put up settlements. Given these conditions, there is an increased rate of desertification and climatic changes. Given this trend of diminishing water resources, there is need for drastic measures to be taken to either reverse the trend or at least arrest the situation. There is need to urgently ensure sustainability in the way water resources are exploited so that we not only benefit but also we safeguard the future generations’ ability to benefit from the same. Conserving the entire water resource on the mother earth is quite a big dream but still attainable through our small deeds of water conservation. How? See below;

  1. Tapping and storing rainwater: This can be achieved through installation of gutters on roofs to collect rain water. People with iron roofs can install gutters on their houses and this will prevent rainwater from being wasted as runoffs. This water is channeled into storage tanks for storage and can be used in the future when there is “water shortage”. This is a very convenient way of getting fresh water. In primary school my teacher said it is an example of soft water and then went ahead to enumerate a whole lot of merits associated with this kind of water.For me, the bottom line is, it will help in eradicating the problem of water scarcity.
  2. Reusing of water in homesteads is another simple yet overlooked way of water conservation. Simply put, water used in doing laundry can be reused in flashing toilets or even mopping floors. My teacher said it is called grey-water, and it includes wastewater generated from wash hand basins, showers and baths, which can be recycled on-site for uses such as WC flushing and landscape irrigation and thus saving on clean water
  3. Take shorter showers; I know most of us don’t see this as wastage when they leave shower water running even when they are not using the water but you would be surprised at how much you would save if only you can turn it on when you need it. Another way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower after soaping up, and then turn it back on to rinse. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.
  4. Also, another way to save water is for you to turn off the water after you wet your toothbrush when brushing your teeth. There is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.
  5. And finally for farmers like me put a layer of mulch around trees and plants. Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture while discouraging weed growth. Adding 2 – 4 inches of organic material such as compost or bark mulch will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture. Press the mulch down around the drip line of each plant to form a slight depression which will prevent or minimize water runoff.

Let me know if you find this helpful

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