Organic Crop Protection is the Future

Since globalization, trade and climate change, as well as reduced resilience in production systems due to decades of agricultural intensification and biodiversity loss, have all played a part in the dramatic increase and spread of trans-boundary plant pests and diseases. My idea is based on traditional practices whereby the crops which are resilient in one agro-ecological zone can be selected and protected in the zone, and restrict the introduction of GMO and hybrids seeds. We have experienced that the introduction of GMO has affected the overall crop production in the local farming system.

Using crop rotation method and local seed germination can help to have high resilience crop in tropical areas. Crops will be easily monitored based on the yield, pest and diseases control. This practice can be applied to combat maize related pest and diseases during crop production and post-harvest loss. In my village where I grew up, farmers used to stock seeds based on the selection of best cobs of maize and select seeds from the available stock. The practices have been used for many years until the commercial and trade of seeds was introduced.

The traditional seed germination and production was of economic benefit to poor farmers. It was also resilient to tropical pest and diseases and environmentally friendly. The practices were adopted generation to generation without notice of change and introduction of GMO seeds. The organically-based seed germination and crop management practices are sustainable practices, socially accepted and have less environmental impact compared to GMO’s, which also promote the use of fertilizers affecting the health of soil and biodiversity to harmless insects in the soil.

OUR WORK
I will work with Jembe Agribusiness Company in the areas which are affected by climate change and GMO’s especially in Maize production. Our pilot areas will be at Isimani division in Iringa region. 20 farmers will be selected each with 2 acres of maize. We will open a maize farm field school and local laboratory for seed germination using traditional methods. Local farmers will be our key stakeholders and, using indigenous leaders during the research, will be our focal points. The local population in Isimani division will be our primary beneficiaries.

The outcome of the organic crop management innovation will be increased maize production, adoption of organic seed germination and crop production at scale as well as increased food security and reduced incidence of pest and diseases. I have baseline data of crop yield on maize production which is 20-35% decrease annually and incidence of pest and diseases which is 45-75% annually. The outcome of increased production will be measured by harvests observation per acre of maize.

I determine to have local maize experts that will offer real time support as volunteers and extension officers in the region to help combat pest and control disease. The organic crop protection will increases production and, henceforth food security and sustainable incomes at household levels. The available trained field extension officers will be creating employment opportunities and income which will reduce income poverty at scale.

MY MOTIVATION
I am passionate about organic agricultural practices. My idea on crop protection is organic and has been practiced over decades, but it has been accidentally removed by commercial seed companies. I grew up in rural areas and participated actively in agriculture as first home business. In my country agriculture is known as the back bone of the nation, yet recently we have experienced many areas with hunger and areas with seasonal food insecurity. The underlying contribution to declines in crop yield are plant pests and diseases which have wiped out farming investment and hard work leading to increased food insecurity.

Jeremiah Paul Wandili, Tanzania

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