By Wambi Michael
KAMPALA, Jul 4 (IPS) - Africa needs a Green Revolution, but one that will increase agricultural productivity by using practices that build soil fertility while minimising harm to the environment.
Organic farmers, traders and researchers from are pushing organic agriculture as suitable for Africa because it is based on active management of the agricultural ecosystem rather than on external inputs.
Organic farming relies on compost manure, crop rotation, mulching, biological pest control. It excludes use of chemical fertilisers and genetically-modified organisms.
Many scientists are urging Africa to follow the agro-industrial "Green Revolution" model implemented in many parts of Asia and Latin America to increase food production. This requires the application of agrochemical fertiliser, pesticides and other farm inputs.
National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU) executive director, Moses Kiggundu Muwanga, says, "The call for chemical fertilisers does not make sense: they emit greenhouse gasses, both through their production and their composition of mainly nitrous oxide, and so they contribute to climate change. Besides the cost of synthetic fertiliser is too expensive for most subsistence farmers."
Muwanga, also a board member of International Federation of Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), said the suggestions put forward by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and others offer market-based solutions that could exploit an average subsistence farmer in Africa.
"The packages offered by the Alliance For Green Revolution (AGRA) will lead farmers to indebtedness and destroy our agro-biodiversity and natural resources because the aim is to shift African agriculture to depend on costly agro-chemicals and pesticides," he said.