A United Nations study has found that organic agriculture may offer Africa better food security that conventional, chemically intensive farming.
The report, titled Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa, notes the “conventional wisdom is that, in order to double food supply, efforts need to be redoubled to modernize agriculture such a strategy has been successful in the past.
“But there are doubts about the capacity of such systems to reduce food poverty. The great technological progress in the past half-century has not led to major reductions in hunger and poverty in developing countries.
The study by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations
Capacity Building Task Force on Trade, Environment and Development (CBTF) found evidence that “supports the argument that organic agriculture can be more conducive to food security in Africa than most conventional production systems.”
The report says efforts to reduce hunger have slowed since 1990 and the number of hungry people in Africa has increased by 20% during that time.
Based on 15 case studies conducted in East Africa from 2004, the study concludes organic or “near organic” agricultural technologies and methodology “are ideally suited for many poor, marginalized smallholder farmers in Africa as they require minimal or no external inputs, use locally and naturally available materials to produce high quality products, and encourage a whole systemic approach to farming that is more diverse and resistant to stress.”
All case studies also showed “increases in the per hectare productivity of food crops, which challenges the myth that organic agriculture cannot increase agricultural productivity.”