In the past years, farming has been seen as job that is gruesome only practiced by people in rural areas. Well, people thought green collar jobs did not pay off and was meant for really old people who did not have any other thing to do. But in the recent years, the youth have decided to take up agriculture and make it a very profitable business and now everyone wants to own a farm which is a very good thing as this will increase the quantity of food produced. But the dilemma is how to increase food quantity and food quality and also reduce environmental degradation as it is said that agriculture emits more than 20% of the world’s global methane emission in the tropics comes from agriculture(inside climate news.com) which begs the question on what can be done achieve these three objectives? The simple answer is organic farming. Although organic farming has been regarded as the future of sustainable agriculture; it will be the future of agriculture.
And what is organic farming? It is just the use of natural means to grow crops and rear livestock. This type of farming discourages the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and even the use of chemically treated seeds, just to keep the crops as organic as possible. There are four principles guiding organic farming and they include the following:
- Organic farming should sustain and enhance the health of the soil, plants, animals, and humans as on and indivisible.
- Organic farming should be based on the living ecological systems and cycles, work with them emulate them and help sustain them.
- Organic agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to common environment and life processes
- Organic farming should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.(source: Wikipedia)
These principles should reflect in the everyday operations in an organic farm. How do I start and run organic farm successful? Is the question on the mind of farmers who want to venture into organic farming, well here are some guidelines
KNOW THE CROPS YOU WANT TO GROW
I think this is a mistake that most farmers make. They don’t know the crops to start with and then decide if they later want to streamline. Knowing the crops you want to produce will go a long way determine your success in organic farming because it goes a long way to determines a lot of things, from site selection, to pest and disease management, marketing strategy and so on. For instance if a farmer wants to venture into organic vegetable farming for instance say cucumber, turnips, and pepper (cucumber and pepper are climbers while turnips are root crops) you will need soil rich in nitrogen and properly decomposed organic matter, so you want to crop your cucumber on s sandy soil, you would want to crop your cucumbers, turnips and pepper on loamy solid with properly decomposed organic matter to avoid spending so much on improving soil fertility
KNOW YOUR MARKET
The reason for embarking on organic farming even is to make profit from it and it would be very wise to know your market, know who to sell to. If they demand for your crops does it exist, then the feasibility of your business is nowhere to be found. There are basically two types of market research for new farmers: The first is “the big picture” outline that involves taking a good look at the demography of the select area and making estimated guesses as to the number of people willing to buy your produces. For example, there are 500,000 people in your demographic zone and from your estimate you have 30,000 people who are interested in certified organic crops, that 30,000 is your customer base and that is where your profit is going to come from. The second is “the small picture” outline which involves meeting up with the people at the helm of affairs of distribution and sales (the product managers, farm market managers) to get information on the demand of the consumer and their consumption patterns. Also in the big small picture approach, you can speak directly with the consumers so you can know their consumption patterns so as to know what and when to produce.
When you have known all of these it would be wise to ensure that you create a cushion effect, in the case of pest and diseases. Also ensure that your price and margins are reasonable. Pricing in the sense that, you know the amount of money people are ready to pay to buy your crops and know the amount the consumers are ready to buy your produces along with how much you are willing to stay in business.
Now that you know the crops that you want to produce, the site that would accommodate the growth should be the next thing on the mind of the newbie farmer. In selecting a site for your farmland you should consider the proximity to the water, if the water source is far, you will need to spend more money on irrigation. You should also consider taking the soil for testing to ensure that you have adequate information on what is lacking and what is in excess in the soil. In case you do not have enough money for a soil test, you can simply do a test run by cropping on a small section of the land to see first-hand how the crops will thrive without any external aid since you are practicing organic farming. One little tip: Before you start planting ensure that you fertilize
the land, with any of the following; compost, manure, peat(peat helps improves the soil by aeration and absorbing water)
Just start! It won’t be a good look when all you have done after two years of purchasing a land is still researching. Just go ahead and start, start with what you have with you. You might make mistakes, that’s one of the ways you will learn. So call that irrigation company, take that soil for testing, build that nursery, remove those stomps, call the insurance company. Just make sure that you start!
As you start your journey as an organic farmer, don’t stand alone, you have to go all out and make friends with your colleagues so they always give you some tricks and fill you in on the latest news and so on. You should also get a mentor that would help you who can guide you on what to do and steps to take. The essence of networking is to ensure that you have people around that will urge to carry on and help out whenever something goes wrong
Organic farming is the future of agriculture and it is smartest way to farm with little impact on the the environment. The journey of organic farming is an interesting as you get to discover what works and what does not. It will cost you, but it will be worth it.