Photo: Corporate Services Director of Kenya Climate Innovation Center awards a finalist of the WESustain Essay Competition, Fred Adick.
This is one of the winning essays from our WESustain Essay Competition 2018. The prompt was:
How can the youth harness the opportunities in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a means of tackling the current social, economic and environmental challenges in Africa by 2030?
Sustainable Farming for a Sustainable Future
Sustainable agriculture is the production of agricultural goods, necessary to satisfy the needs of present and future generations, in order to protect the components of natural environmental factors, like water, air and soil.
Sustainable farming therefore refers to use of land in a way that benefits local economies of the people and restoring soil nutrients through organic measures. The extensive management of land for agriculture through incorporating trees, shrubs and pasture are viable leading to increased income, improved soil fertility and environmental quality. This ensures that farmers and land owners are able to reduce erosion and enhance continuity of land productivity from present generation to future generation.
Sustainable agriculture embraces agroforestry system as the main practice that implies trees, crops and livestock farming, created into most desired formal way to achieve the benefit and high yields as much as possible. The practice intensifies basic production and protection of land from degradation of synthetic fertilization, poor irrigation system and cultivations so as to maintain land ecosystem.
The interaction between trees and crops help in balancing benefit of conservation and local ecosystem thus maintaining the environmental factors and maintaining microclimate of the area.
In the same farm, hedgerows designed work to protect and distribute precipitation in the farm even if the rainfall is low. Farmers are also advised to practice alley cropping which provides economic diversity of biological of the land. To create symbiotic in the ecosystem this implies that livestock waste are used as fertilizer to grow pasture trees and crop. Tree help in absorbing excess carbon dioxide produced in the farm from animals therefore maintaining the environment for present and future generation.
Land management procedures will help to integrate water and biodiversity in sustainable manner. Integrated sustainable farming, of growing plants and animals in site-specific to maintain the integrity of environmental quality and natural resource based on renewable and on farm resource which integrate biological cycle.
For sustainable agriculture to be achieved some principles must be put in place;
-Biological and ecological incorporation in agriculture help in nutrients recycling, soil regeneration and nitrogen fixation hence ensure healthy food production.
-Using of renewable and sustainable agricultural inputs which are environmental friendly like organic fertilizers e.g. green manure
-Collaboration of people with different skills and expertise to help solve agricultural
production and natural resources problems like; pest management and better irrigation methods for water sustainability.
Sustainable agriculture main objective is to understand agricultural production and ecosystem to maintain the global degrading environment. Therefore, practices like: excessive tillage of soil which is leading to soil erosion and irrigation without adequate drainage leading to salinization of waters. As adverse climate increases, causing droughts, flood which results to poor agricultural production. Therefore these calls for several steps to adapt and mitigate the climate change so as to suite agricultural production;
-Improving water conservation and storage techniques
-Selection of drought resistant and tolerant mechanisms like resistant crops
-Managing crops to reduce water loss
The political regime which used to oppose the model of sustainable agriculture has adopted a different paradigm shift which falls under the concept of environmental conservation due to its benefits. Unlike industrial agriculture, sustainable agriculture has many different tools and applications, but is defined by its attempts to make agricultural decisions which are environmentally sound, economically viable, and socially just for all sectors of society. This concept of Sustainable agriculture differs in its application, logical representation, realistic, and necessary alternative to industrial agriculture given the reality of limited resources and anticipated food insecurity for the future generation. Agricultural sustainability relates to social sustainability in that the quality of life for those who work and live on the farm, as well as those in the local community. Fair treatment of workers, positive farm family relationships, personal interactions with consumers, and choosing to purchase supplies locally (rather than from a more distant market) are just some of the aspects considered in social-agricultural sustainability. In essence, the farm supports the community and the community supports the farm.
A farm must be economically viable in order to be considered truly sustainable. The environmental and social advantages of sustainable production methods do not always interpret into immediate economic improvements. Hence, sustainable agriculture practices can have a positive economic impression on a farm. For example, agro-foresting and diversifying the farm with several crops helps the market in reducing financial risk.
Production costs can be reduced by sustainable agricultural methods. Fertilizer and pesticide costs are generally reduced on a sustainably managed farm because, for example, legumes and crop rotations tend to be less expensive than their synthetic alternatives. The higher labor costs are most often attributed to the increased time required for monitoring and managing pests on sustainable farms which is therefore reduced. Planting materials costs are always expensive to farmers therefore producing their own stock has lower expense.
In conclusion, international organizations, governments, non-governmental organizations and farmers are advised adopt and implement sustainable policies that contribute to reduction in poverty, malnutrition and food insecurity in many parts of the world through sustainable agriculture.