Today, organic foods are appealing to consumers since they are an ethical choice and healthy. Therefore, organic farming can be a profitable sphere to venture in. Apart from ethics and money. Organic farming practices are friendly to the environment. Organic farming can be considered as a farming method that avoids the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, additives, growth regulators and growth hormones. They rely on animal manures, bio-fertilizers, crop residues, crop rotation, organic wastes, and mechanical cultivation. Biological methods are used for pest and weeds control while still maintaining soil productivity. Organic farming helps in enhancing biological diversity, soil fertility and this way resulting in sustainability in agriculture.
To maintain soil fertility, crops should be supplied with nutrients using insoluble nutrients like the action of micro-organisms. Legumes can be grown to ensure nitrogen soil self-sufficiency since they facilitate to nitrogen fixation.
Pros of Organic Farming
In fruit farming, organic farming has many benefits such as reducing chemical residual levels and minimizing soil erosion. China giving a nod to Kenyan avocados, that was a big opportunity for Kenyan farmers. However, the export license can end up being canceled if high pesticide levels and the use of unregistered pesticides are detected. Apart from discouraging smart farming practices like crop rotation and growing cover crops, pesticides and synthetic chemicals result in soil, air and water contamination. Continuous use of pesticides allows disease resistance to develop in weeds, plants, bacteria, fungi, and plant-eating-insects.
Soil erosion is a serious issue that should be combated since it affects the land, humans and can greatly cut the fruit supply, especially when the trees are destroyed.
When you treat the soil with harmful pesticides, you destroy it to the point that the soil can no longer thrive on its own. Growing healthy fruits starts with healthy soil. Organic farming means that you will produce healthy fruits.
Organic farming facilitates water conservation and preservation. Some fruit trees such as peaches, pears cannot tolerate drought and hence require a lot of irrigation. Apples require a lot of water during vegetative growth and fruit formation. Most fruits are resistant to rotting hence they can withstand wet soils. Most mature fruits are composed of approximately 70% water. This means that plants require a lot of water during fruit formation. On most occasions, 1% of the water that the trees use is retained in the fruits. Continuous use of fertilizers reduces water retention capability results in poor drainage of the soil. This leads to a lot of irrigation, affected water conservation negatively. When farmers employ organic practices such as mulching, they manage to minimize irrigation and hence conserve water.
Consumers prefer organically grown fruits not only in Kenya but also in other countries since they are tastier. The quality of the fruits is also different. Organically grown fruits are free from preservatives, harmful chemicals, and artificial flavors. Furthermore, the cost of organic fruit farming is relatively lower compared to non-organically grown ones.
Challenges facing Organic Farming
The organic farming industry faces several challenges. For instance, farmers are not aware of the high demand for organic fruits and their market. Also, there is a lack of enforcement o organic farming, lack of certification by agricultural bodies and lack of proper inspection of fruit quality. The inappropriate use of chemical and high maximum residual levels (MRLs) in the horticultural sector, for example, resulted in the European Union rejecting Kenya’s horticulture produce. This shows the importance of setting standards and certification of organic farming.
The demand for organically produced fruits has been rising not only locally but also in the export market. Some farmers are already amassing high incomes from organic fruits. Unfortunately, the number of organic farmers is still low and hence the demand is yet to be met. In Kenya, there are some supermarkets in Nairobi and other parts of the country which are stocking their shelves with organic foods. Apart from low chemical levels, organic fruits have health benefits to those suffering from serious diseases such as high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes.