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Green Economy Initiative Edit

Sustainable Agriculture not starting from ground zero

Agriculture remains a major employer in the world, providing jobs to about 40% of the total world labour force.

Organic agriculture triggers very polarized views, seen by some as the saviour and others as a niche, even luxury product unable to meet the needs of billions of people.

Studies indicate that organic agriculture in both the North and the South employs more people.

A new survey by the UN Conference on Trade and the Environment and UNEP in East Africa found that over 90 per cent of studies show that organic or near organic agriculture had benefits for soil fertility; water control; improved water tables, carbon sequestration and biodiversity.

This allows farmers to extend the growing season in marginal areas. The research in East Africa was among 1.6 million organic or near organic farmers from seven countries working on 1.4 million hectares.

Other findings include an increase in crop yields of 128 per cent since switching.

Higher incomes too as a result of not having to buy fertilizers and pesticides; more food availability; higher prices paid through certification schemes for both export and domestic markets-addresses poverty in environmentally friendly way.

Close to 90 per cent of cases showed increase in farm and household incomes and because organic agriculture is more knowledge intensive it has lead to improvements in education; community bonds and cooperation on market access.

The report concludes:" Organic and near-organic agricultural methods and technologies 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".

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