This post will serve as a step by step guide to those who want to start organic farming in Nigeria. It will also outline its advantages and benefits of organic farming business you would need to know as a farmer if you choose to venture in this kind of farming.
Organic farming can be defined as the practice of the cultivation of crops and rearing of animals without the use of any synthetic farm inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides and the likes but through the use of traditional inputs such as green manure, compost manure, crop rotation, and other cultural practices to eliminate pest and manage diseases. Several researches in organic farming was carried out in the developing countries recently, there is still a need for similar but extensive research on organic farming in Nigeria in order to promote, develop and encourage organic farming among the farmers of our country.
As earlier noted, the use of organic fertilizers has so many advantages because it is natural when compared to the use of inorganic fertilizers. They help in the improvement of soil fertility and also increasing crop yield. They also contain certain nutrients that is beneficial (primary and secondary nutrients) to eco-friendly farming practices. This helps the farmer avoid artificial chemicals like the use of antibiotics, herbicides, pesticides even artificial hormones
The benefits or advantages of organic farming includes:
- Since its natural, it is deemed safe and Eco-friendly.
- It is highly beneficial to both humans and animals.
- It aids in the protection of rivers from water pollutants and water bodies.
- It encourages the recycling of local resource.
- It helps in the improvement of the soil structure and fertility.
- It remains the most affordable modern system of farming in the country.
- It is lucrative to farmers both at commercial and local alike.
- It encourages the production of highly nutritious food crops at lesser prices.
- The control of pests, diseases and weeds is effective even without the use of chemical methods.
- It seeks to protect the natural rights and welfare of farm animals.
Before we delve into the steps proper, you might be wondering how do you go about organic farming? Well, the first step in organic farming is get your land prepared. Second step is to plant seeds, third step is harvest and sell.
Below are the steps explained on how to go about organic farming in Nigeria.
Step One: Land/Soil Preparation
To achieve a fertile soil to plant you seeds, you would need to add organic manure from your livestock such as dung from animals like cows, sheep, goats, rams, poultry droppings and farm yard manure to the soil or land you want to use. This will help improve the fertility and structure of the soil plus it will ensure enough crops during harvesting.
Also, composting which is an important component of organic farming that involves the use of green waste, human waste and those from animals is essential during land preparation. These matter are left to decay or decompose into humus after a certain period of weeks. These decomposed organic matter are then added into the soil before or during planting to ensure good crop growth and increase in crop yield.
Step Two: Planting Seeds & Rearing of Livestock
It is vital to use quality seeds if you must engage in planting to ensure healthy yield. We advice that you buy seeds from farmers who also engage in organic farming. This will ensure that the whole planting process remains naturally organic. It is also best to plant on elevated beds as you can either transplant the seedlings from a nursery or on the farm directly.
Try and water the plants in the morning. Using drip irrigation as a means of watering the plants should also be practiced. The reason why it is necessary to water the plants in the morning is to make sure the plants are not prone to fungal diseases. Try planting a variety of crops, more importantly vegetables as they attract beneficial insects that would be of economic importance to your farm on the long run. More so, inter-cropping would help increase soil nutrients.
Step Three: Weeding & Pest Control
One major challenge farmers face when planting is weeds. These are unwanted plants that constitute nuisance to the soil and to the plants. They suck out nutrients that are meant for your plants allowing such plants to suffer from malnutrition. What you should do is mulching which would help reduce the weeds. Just apply it when planting the seeds. Another method to reduce weeds apart from organic mulch is crop rotation.
Pest attack is also a menace or a major problem in organic farming. Through advancement in agriculture, research has shown that there are natural ways to combat pest attacks. Some natural predators like frogs, toads and birds can be used in warding off pests from your farm. Bacillus thurigiensis, a bacteria has also been proven as an organic weapon against pests. This bacteria disrupts the activities of leaf eaters and caterpillars. You can also use garlic, horticultural soaps and crop rotation to help stop the reproductive cycle of these harmful pests.
No matter what you are planting, be it grains, tubers or even if you are rearing livestock, just make sure that your products are natural & organic to achieve healthy crop yield. Try and follow the right organic practice. Ensure that drugs or other growth stimulating chemicals are not used to enhance both plants and livestock growth. Although, organic farming is being constrained by several factors in Nigeria and which if critically looked into, could be solved with little efforts.
The benefits of organic farming reside on the farmers, our ecosystem and man’s health. In line with this development therefore, Governments should formulate appropriate agricultural policies to promote and encourage organic agriculture, by providing support for the marketing of the organic products for both export and local consumption as this would greatly encourage the local organic farmers and consequently increase the output of organic farm produce which would eventually ensure food security in the country.