Organic farming is an alternative to traditional agriculture which involves the application of fertilizers, food additives, genetically modified organisms, livestock antibiotics, and plant growth regulators. The genesis of organic farming can be traced to the 20th century. At the time, it was a solution to the rapidly changing farming practices. African nations are among the countries with the fewest organic farms by area. The countries with the most developed organic farming in Africa by area are Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Tunisia.
Top African Countries for Organic Farming
Nearly 200,000 Ugandans are small-scale organic farmers, the highest number of organic farmers after India. In total, these farmers till land equivalent to 231,157 hectares of land. In Africa, Uganda is the top country for organic farming due to the government support that it receives. The Ugandan government strictly prohibits the use of synthetic inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, and drugs. The objective of the prohibition is to promote sustainable agricultural growth for the long-term improvement of people’s lives. Consequently, the country is popular for its organic exports. The effects of organic farming in Uganda include reduced agricultural chemical runoff, improved food security, and increased organic exports.
Organic farming in Tanzania is championed by the Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM). It has resulted in fertile soils, great ecosystems, and a healthy population. TOAM came into being in 2005. Since then, its role has been to facilitate and coordinate organic farming in Tanzania. Growth of organic farming in Tanzania is also attributed to the growing support received from the consumers and stakeholders. Organic farmers focus on protecting the environment, health of consumers, and soil. Some of the methods used in organic farming include the use of organic manure, intercropping, and crop rotation. Consequently, approximately 186,537 hectares of Tanzanian land is under organic farming. Hence, Tanzania is the second top African country for organic farming.
The area of land that is used for organic farming in Ethiopia amounts to 164,777 hectares. Ethiopia is the third top African country in organic production. The history of organic farming in Ethiopia can be traced to the year 2000. At the time, there was a shock fall in the price of coffee. Hence, the government invited experts from Europe to advice on the best strategy for coffee farming. Some of the recommendations included a focus on organic farming. Many years later, there has been increased growth in the organic agriculture sector. However, one major challenge facing organic farming in Ethiopia is the lack of domestic sales. Most organic farmers are exporters due to the favorable market conditions such as secure premiums on certified products and clear trading schemes.
Fertilizers Used by Organic Farmers in Africa
Organic farmers use either plant or animal-based fertilizers in their farming. Examples of these fertilizers include cow-dung, coffee husks, and manure. Manure adds nutrition to the soil by absorbing and storing moisture in the soil. The objective of the organic farmers is to avoid filling the soil with artificial chemicals which harm the nutrients needed for successful crop yields.