Okyenhene’s views on organic farming can’t be ignored

BY: Daily Graphic
Okyenhene Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori
Okyenhene Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori

The effect of inorganic fertiliser and other agrochemicals on the soil has been a growing concern for many around the world.

Many people have attributed some rare diseases which have now become very common to the agrochemicals used on our farms in the name of modernising agriculture.

Almost 10 years ago, a section of the world, made up of a number of civil society organisations and individuals, raised red flags on the negative impact of agrochemicals, including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), on our health and livelihood.

Opponents of the use of inorganic fertiliser, agrochemicals and other so-called modern farming methods believe that those methods destroy the soil, making farmers to continue to rely on them, without which food production will be a challenge.

For instance, those against the use of all forms of agrochemicals believe that adopting GMOs will wipe out indigenous farming methods and make farmers slaves to foreign seed producers.

This, obviously, can be dangerous because anytime those seed producers are unable to meet the demand, farmers will be in trouble and, ultimately, feeding the nation can be a challenge.

It is in the light of all these developments that the Daily Graphic supports the call by the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, to support indigenous farmers to harness traditional knowledge in organic farming.

The Okyenhene, who spoke at the opening of the fifth World Organic Forum in Germany, insisted that before the advent of modern farming methods, indigenous farmers cultivated good food crops using organic materials in all the phases of production, harvesting, preservation and preparation of food. See page 20 for story.

It is a known fact that organic food is healthier, compared to the food produced using agrochemicals, and so if agrochemicals are now scarce, it is important that our farmers consider organic farming for healthier and safer food.

We believe organic farming, which involves the use of organic fertiliser, is the way to go, especially with current price hikes of inorganic fertiliser in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

It is estimated that about 10 per cent of the world's phosphate and 25 per cent of potassium come from Russia, and both minerals have been locked up because of sanctions imposed on that country.

As a result, the price of potassium has gone up from $200 per tonne to $700, while that of phosphate has increased from $250 per tonne to $700.

Surely, these figures are out of the reach of smallholder farmers who contribute over 90 per cent of our food needs at home but who, unfortunately, are heavily affected by the current development.

It is in this respect that countries such as Ghana that rely on 100 per cent imports need to find alternative and innovative ways to solve the current challenges to improve food production to avert any food shortage.

We see the Russia-Ukraine conflict as an opportunity for us to go back to our indigenous sources of fertiliser, which are all around us, ranging from leftover food, animal droppings, human waste, rubbish on our farms, among others.

Organic fertiliser, unlike inorganic fertiliser, is able to fix nutrients into the soil instead of depleting it.

Organic fertiliser is in three forms: solid, liquid and granular. With the exception of liquid organic fertiliser, the rest are mostly produced locally

Experts believe that organic fertiliser is the best way to go because, unlike inorganic, which leaves some residue in the soil, which can in turn increase the acidic nature of the land, organic fertiliser decomposes, leaving no residue behind.

Consequently, officials of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, led by the Minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, have held discussions with 18 local fertiliser producers on ways to step up the production of quality organic fertiliser.

We are happy that the government, through the ministry, is encouraging local organic fertiliser producers to redouble efforts at producing more to serve our local farmers.

The current situation calls for serious deliberation on focusing on what can be produced locally.

It is time we had a relook at turning to organic farming, which comes with benefits.