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Worried over high fertiliser prices? go organic farming

Fertilizer at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) warehouse in Nakuru. April 4, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

One of the unintended consequences of the Ukraine-Russia war, also called a special military operation by Russia is the rise in fuel and fertiliser prices.

This has left governments scratching their heads. 

They have resulted in subsidies to stem the political anger that results from fuel-induced inflation.

We can debate the sustainability of subsidies later. Some observers have said in whispers that is why “no one” wants to see a weak shilling, it would fuel inflation further.

Let’s leave fuel prices and dollar shortages for now. But add quickly that any control of price, either for fuel or exchange rate results in a shortage.

That is economics 101. The price of fertiliser should not keep us awake at night. It’s a golden opportunity to turn to organic farming. In most supermarkets in the world, organic foods are pricier.

They are grown under natural conditions with minimal chemicals like fertilisers or genetic modification. The key organic foods are fruits and vegetables. Such foods are healthier. They are expensive because your health is your wealth.

They made up only about four per cent of the US food market in 2014. That demonstrates the potential for growth in this market. In Kenya, the market is probably higher because we grow our foods traditionally. Remember kienyeji chicken?

Modernity brought us to non-organic food grown with chemicals and genetic modifications. The debate over GMO (genetically modified organisms) shows that we are still organic. But the use of chemicals dilutes that organicity.

In Kenya, we are becoming more health-conscious and the demand for such foods is growing. I have noted adverts for organic foods in several places in the city.

Noted presence of ngwaci, nduma and boiled maize in five-star hotels? Organic foods are not just about our health but the planet itself; climatic change and biodiversity.

Our farmers should not lose sleep over high fertiliser prices. It’s an opportunity to shift to a more lucrative market.

It’s interesting that while the developed countries are shifting toward organic foods, we are shifting away from them. Yet the future is organic. High fertiliser prices could bring forward that future.

For most farmers, it simply means enhancing traditional farming using manure, rotating crops, and planting crops best suited to your weather and soil.

And keeping animals fed natural naturally without artificial feeds and hormones.