Organic Agriculture An Opportunity for Rural Communities

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By Diane Uwimpaye

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High poverty levels have been a source of concern to most governments in the world over time especially in Africa, Rwanda inclusive with poverty level of 39.1 percent.

Poverty levels are demonstrated through food insecurity, low incomes that don’t allow most members of the rural community to meet their basic needs, low education/knowledge levels that may facilitate the livelihoods initiative to fight against poverty.

It’s believed that that although organic farming systems produce yields that average 10-20% less than conventional agriculture, they are more profitable and environmentally friendly. Historically, conventional agriculture has focused on increasing yields at the expense of the other three sustainability metrics.

In the quest to support the government’s fight against poverty many efforts need to be made to modernize agriculture. Towards this end, many partners in agriculture joined their hands to put in action methods which can help to increase food productivity.

Among them Rwanda Organic Agriculture Movement (ROAM) a community based organization was established in the middle 2007 with a focus of helping rural small scale farmers to use local materials for land based livelihoods strategies that would fight poverty amongst its members.

In a country where the agriculture sector contributes more than 30 % in the GDP, with a share of above 87 % of the total labour force (NISR, 2016).   It is obvious that the sector plays a role of paramount importance in sustainable social economic development of the country.

Beyond economic considerations, organic agriculture brings with it numerous other benefits for sustainable development.  Environmental benefits from increased organic agricultural cultivation

include lower energy consumption (20-56 per cent lower per unit produced), reduced greenhouse gas emissions (on average 64 per cent lower per hectare2), higher levels of biodiversity, and increased soil fertility leading to the possibility of equivalent or higher yields compared to conventional farming UNEP, 2012.

Not only going organic will help local farmers to improve their livelihood, they will also benefit from uniqueness of organic agriculture compared to other forms of agriculture since the organic agriculture relies on five capital assets for success: nature, physical, social, financial and human resources. Organic agriculture is free from pollutants and environmental toxins which cause harm to the health of soil, plants, animals and human beings.

If we could all embark on the path of Organic Agriculture we could all sustainably feed the world while protecting the environment, mitigating climate change consequences and finally protecting human health from diseases especially non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including Cancer.

As Rwanda face the increasing population growth, climate change and environmental degradation, the country need agricultural systems that come with a more balanced portfolio of sustainability benefits. Experts say that organic farming is one of the healthiest and strongest sectors in agriculture today and it produces adequate yields and better unites human health, environment and socioeconomic objectives than conventional farming.

Diane Uwimpaye is the Managing Director SOIL Ltd.

 

 

 

 

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