It takes time
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CTA. 2002. It takes time. Rural Radio Resource Pack 02/4. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57217
A training officer describes a training programme for organic farmers, including the methods that they learn, and their attempts to obtain certification.
It takes time Cue: For small-scale farmers to be successful organic producers takes time. If their soils are already degraded, restoring them to good health can take several years. Learning how to control pests and diseases without using chemical sprays is also a complex business- they need to use a wide variety of methods. Becoming an organic farmer requires effort and determination, and a lot of learning. In Zambia?s Chongwe district, the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre has been training local farmers in organic production and sustainable agriculture for a number of years. Now, the centre has reached the stage where the first 50 farmers have applied for organic certification. Chris Kakunta visited the centre and spoke to Austin Chilala, one of the field officers, about the training programme. He began by asking how long the centre had been teaching organic farming. IN: ?Actually we have been ? OUT: ? lives easier within their means.? DUR?N 4?25? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Austin Chilala encouraging small-scale farmers to be aggressive in learning and practising organic farming. Transcript Chilala Actually we have been doing this for the last ten years now, encouraging farmers around Chongwe district to grow crops organically; that means without using any form of chemicals. And we are doing so because, with the small-scale farmers around the area, it is quite expensive for them to go around and look for fertilizers and for chemicals, so it gives us an encouragement. Because when you are talking of organic farming, you are talking of using the resources within the farm. Kakunta How easy is it for a small-scale farmer, for instance, to produce a crop using organic methods? Chilala Yes, when you talk of how easy it is, it is tricky, because it requires time. When you have to grow crops organically, especially for the soils that were depleted, it means that you need a bit of time to build up the soil fertility so that you can support a crop, without for example, fertilizers and the like. So you also have to have the whole range of other practices. And a healthy crop will need less chemicals for spraying, a healthy crop will always resist some of the diseases that might occur. So it is easy to do it if you have already gone through the processes of improving fertility, and gone through the principles of sustainable agriculture, and all the techniques, and that takes time for the farmers to grasp within the area. But for the farmers that we have been working with, with the help of the Swedish Co-operative Centre, for the last four years, actually, some of them have grasped and they have benefited a lot. And they say that it is much cheaper over time, and easier as you go. Kakunta What about it terms of disease and pest control? Is it really manageable? Chilala Oh yes, it is. When you are talking of disease and pest control, we use so many different ways of controlling pests and diseases. For example you talk of maybe resistant varieties. Also you can prepare some of the natural pesticides that you can use to control pests. You use methods like inter-planting. You know, when you grow crops together there will be pests that are disadvantaged in one way or another, and there is a whole range of practices that you use towards controlling of pests. Kakunta So could you cite some of the examples where you have successfully controlled pests, using the examples that you have just mentioned? Chilala One of them I would cite, is where you grow crops together. So you find that in cowpeas, if you grow cowpeas together with the maize, you will find that there is less attack in the cowpeas than it can be growing on its own. Then it reduces the effort of spraying all the time, and the money to buy the chemical actually. Kakunta Of late there has been an increase in demand for agricultural produce that has been grown organically. Are your farmers, for instance, accessing markets outside the country, following your interventions, and following your programme? Chilala The farmers that have gone through the principles of sustainable agriculture, it means that they have these techniques of growing a crop organically, and now what they need to do to be organic farmers is that they need to certify as organic. And we have 50 farmers already that have gone into the first process of certifying as organic. The inspector came to see their farms, and the maps were drawn. And after their land is certified fit for growing organic crops, then we hope to have the market where we can probably export some of these organic products. So, yes we are looking into that, in terms of marketing organically, and maybe for export, but it is a process that has to be followed. Kakunta So as an institution, what would you like to see at the end of the day, in terms of those farmers you are working with, and how they should treat organic agriculture? Chilala We have trainings that we are running at Kasisi for small-scale farmers, so they should take that seriously, and have that aggressive approach, and get the concepts, and produce organically, without necessarily spending a lot on other inputs. So it will be able to leave them with money within their pockets and make their lives easier within their means. End of track.