Could organic fertilizers solve the food gap?
The sustainability of global conventional agriculture faces many challenges with world food systems increasingly threatened, making it difficult to feed the world each year. Crop yields are declining due to threats such as land degradation, fewer water resources, climate change and synthetic fertilizers, while population growth, diet changes associated with rising incomes, and other stressors are driving a greater demand for agricultural products. Thapelo Phiri, director of Dijo Tsa Mobu Organic Fertilizer (Food of the Soil), says organic fertilizers, which are materials occurring in nature regularly as an end product of a natural process, may be the answer, as a sustained source of nutrients, to provide enough food due to their slow release decomposition. He says he’s developed a natural liquidified, organic fertilizer from chicken manure, so the process of farming becomes more natural and improves crop quality and yield potential up to three times more, making it more sustainable.
“An increasing number of farmers have been using synthetic fertilizers to produce crops which have chemicals in them that have damaged the soil quality. These types of fertilizers have made some some soils throughout the world infertile and they also put lives at risk due to humans and animals possibly consuming chemicals,” says the innovator.
According to Phiri, organic fertilizers can be used for indoor and outdoor farming and help reinstate the natural fertility of damaged soil because of their organic nature which increases the soil’s organic matter, giving increased, healthier yields. He says the key product elements of his fertilizer is the ability to reduce water surface tension, increase soil penetration level rates and decrease water losses from run-off and evaporation.
"My organic fertilizer enhances the use of water, delivering moisture deeper into the plant roots system to support quicker times for the plants maturity and harvest. It works with any plant treatment that uses water and reduces watering needed by keeping the soil moist for longer. This fertilizer benefits crops in dry or drought conditions, helping plants become resilient to climatic extremes and rehabilitates the soil,” says the director.
Phiri says none of the mineral components in his fertilizer are over 100g per litre, it is non-toxic, safe for the environment, has no health threats to humans due to direct consumption and has a longer shelf life of up to three years. He says agriculture practices must change to meet the rising demand for food, become sustainable and contribute more effectively to the reduction of poverty and malnutrition. “Development in this sector, such as creating organic fertilizers, is fundamental to reduce hunger, poverty and the burden of food imports, as well as generate economic growth and expand exports. Without harnessing larger crop yields and implementing robust supply chains, pressure is placed on food governments to find alternative food sources for communities. This results in further hikes in daily living expenses where a large percentage of the population can already not afford to keep up,” says Phiri.
He adds that on the current African population growth trajectory, poverty is likely to compound in Sub-Saharan Africa as it is overtaking economic growth. Phiri says if the continent’s economy grows on average around 4% per year until 2035, 170 million more Africans could live in extreme poverty than today.
“The majority of the world’s poor people live in rural areas, and agriculture growth has proven effective in lifting rural families out of poverty and hunger. The food gap is an opportunity for small farmers, amongst whom poverty and hunger are concentrated, to expand their output, improve their livelihoods enabling countries to reduce their import dependence and increase their profits.,” says Phiri.
For more information about organic fertilizers contact Thapelo Phiri at Tjphiri2@gmail.com.