SPOTLIGHT: Organic agriculture as a solution for sustainable food systems in Rwanda | The new times

“The health of soil, plants, animals and man is one and indivisible” – Lady Eve Balfour

In addition to existing agricultural challenges, pandemics and wars such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war have created problems such as increased prices for fuel, foodstuffs and especially agrochemical inputs.

This revealed that current agricultural systems based on the use of synthetic inputs are vulnerable and unsustainable as claimed. Agriculture directly accounts for 11 to 13% of greenhouse gas emissions and an additional 12% indirectly.

With our increasingly unstable climate, we cannot afford to continue with current methods that erode soils, pollute the environment and endanger the health of consumers.

Our growing population needs farming methods that conserve and regenerate resources while generating healthy food, not methods that use more chemicals and pollute the environment. We need more nutrient-dense foods to truly feed the world. In order to achieve this goal, we need more foods that provide complete nutrition and more farmers to grow them.

Currently, our food system overproduces grains, fats and sugars and underproduces the vitamins, minerals and proteins essential for better human health.

Excessive use of synthetic fertilizers is a serious problem, where farmers become dependent on artificial chemicals to feed their crops. The inefficient use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides increases runoff into streams, rivers and waterways where it contaminates the water and kills aquatic life, including fish.

Groundwater can also be polluted by the leaching of overdosed chemicals applied to the farm, which contaminates water sources. Additionally, the extensive use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides brings critical non-compliances to the organic certification compliance requirement; this constitutes a major barrier to accessing niche markets that offer high prices to small farmers.

Rwanda Organic Agriculture Movement, the umbrella organization of organic agriculture stakeholders in Rwanda that implements the KCOA-KHEA project with the overall aim of ensuring the integration of ecological organic agriculture into the farming systems of Africa of the East, including policies, plans and investments, finds its justification in the increased need to promote ecological organic agriculture as a sustainable solution to address the challenges mentioned above.

Small-scale farmers using organic farming methods have enormous potential for expanding global food production, and organic farming methods actively regenerate resources and protect the environment from pollution and toxic waste. For a healthy future, we can afford nothing less. That’s why the myth that organic farming can’t feed the world is simply not true.

To promote the organic sector in Rwanda, we call on the government of Rwanda to implement the decision of African Heads of State EX.CL/Dec.621(XVII) on organic agriculture which was made following the report of the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture was held in Lilongwe, Malawi in 2010. In the same vein, the government of Rwanda has considered mainstreaming organic agriculture into national agricultural policy and programs .

The author is the CEO of Rwanda Organic Agriculture Movement (ROAM).

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