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Expert tasks farmers on safe organic farming practice

An agricultural expert, Mr Ismail Olawale has advised farmers to apply organic fertiliser in more hygienic ways. Olawale, a fellow at the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) Zaria, spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.

He said farmers should look beyond the benefits of productivity of organic farming system but should consider the health implications when cultivating the produce.

“When you talk about organic farming and conventional farming, we should not consider one better than the other. We should not restrict the benefit of organic farming to productivity alone. When we do organic farming the level of productivity of man labour per hour can be enhanced where compare to conventional farming.

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“Organic farming is labour intensive and per hour per man you will have more labour hour and manual labour to get high productivity.

“But we have to go beyond productivity, we should also consider the health implications involved in organic farming system when we compare it with the conventional system,” he told NAN Olawale revealed that there were several complaints attributed to organic farming that local farmers should take notice.

“Major components of organic farming involves the use of natural fertilisers to enhance productivity of agricultural produce.

The use of cow dung, animal faeces, soil from refuse dumpsites is common in organic farming, however, there are concerns being raised on the health implications of using these natural fertilisers. In terms of productivity the organic farming system will give more productivity but there has been series of complaints as regards the use of these faecal elements.

For instance the use of cow dung to grow vegetables or carrots, the concern is that by the time of harvest part of these cow dung or faeces are not totally dissolved but stick to the produce. If local farmers must practice organic farming safely, they must be enlightened on how to be hygienic, how to prepare and clean the vegetable before taken to the market.

Local farmers need to be enlightened on the application of these cow dung during cultivation by applying it directly to the soil rather than on the crops. There should be a more enlightenment on more appropriate ways to apply organic fertilisers in plants and crop cultivation,” Olawale said.

The expert also disclosed that beyond productivity, the farmers should consider diseases that could be spread from unsanitary application of these natural fertilisers.

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“If for instance, the farmer is harvesting carrots, carrot have some pores through which the microbes from the cow dung can proliferate it thereby making it harmful for consumption.

“Unsanitary ways of applying these natural fertilizers can also affect the health of the local farmer and in the long run reduce his productivity. Scientists have warned against the dangers of wrongly applying these natural fertilisers all in a bid of getting more produce but at the expense of spreading more diseases,” the expert said.

NAN reports that from researches the tip of a table spoon immersed in cow dung under a microscope reveals over 6000 microbes, which have a high propensity of getting into the agriculture produce when applied as natural fertilisers. (NAN)