The success of organic farming in South Africa

organic farming - South Africaorganic farming - South Africa
organic farming - South Africaorganic farming - South Africa

The success of organic farming in South Africa

Organic farming has become a buzzword in the agricultural industry in many countries. It is a way of farming that excludes the use of harmful chemicals for fertilisation, relying rather on methods such as cover crops and mulch, and calls for less use of herbicides. The success of organic farming in South Africa is growing in leaps and bounds, with more and more farms taking notice of it.


What is organic farming?

Organic farming is a concept that was brought about by Sir Albert Howard in the early 20th Century. It involves developing a healthy, fertile soil, and growing a mixture of crops, and with regard to livestock, it means rearing animals without the use of drugs and antibiotics. The organic farming industry encourages the health of the soil, helps in avoiding soil erosion from runoff due to the use of no-till farming.

In South Africa, the organic farming industry is growing, with the number of organic farmers increasing by 38 percent, from 28 000 in 2002 to 39 600 by the end of 2004 and still more since then. Consumers also state that organic food tastes better and is safer from a health perspective. The fact that organically grown animals are also treated better makes organic meat more popular with consumers.


Organic farming techniques


Crop rotation

Crop rotation means that you will plant one kind of crop during a certain season, then a different crop in another season. For example, in winter you will plant crops such as barley and then plant maize in the summer. This helps to diversify the soil microorganisms and allows farmers to keep up with the increasing consumer demands. Crop rotation is highly effective at reducing soil erosion too.


Green weed management

This is one of the core principles of organic farming: avoiding the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides. The most popular method is mulching, wherein plastic films or plant residue on the surface of the soil is used to block the growth of weed. It is highly environmentally-friendly and is often combined with the use of cover crops. Managing weeds without using pesticides includes methods such as using ‘good’ insects to counter the bad and homemade sprays to kill weeds and pests.


Cover crops

A cover crop is a crop that is planted to primarily reduce the amount of soil erosion that a farm experiences. The types of cover crops that are popular include legumes, grasses and brassicas. These crops help to suppress weeds, build productive soil, and help control pests and diseases. They are easy to maintain and can be replanted when the new planting season begins.


Urban organic farming creating opportunities for rural farmers

Some urban organic farms, such as Wensleydale Farms in Centurion, Gauteng works hand in hand with networks of rural outgrowers, offering training and support for those who want to embrace natural farming on their plots of land.

This interaction is helping to increase the popularity of organic farming in South Africa, as both urban and rural farmers are seeing the value of limiting their use of harmful chemicals. There are also opportunities for rural farmers to learn how to live more sustainably and create a profit while doing so.


Organic farming in the city

One of the most popular organic farming methods on urban farms is composting. Composting involves using organic waste, such as vegetable offcuts from your kitchen, as fertiliser for crops and vegetables. It is an effective way to reduce the amount of waste farmers produce and is highly environmentally-friendly.

You can look into using green herbicides and pesticides, which are especially effective in city farming as they do not contribute to the air and soil pollution. For a highly effective herbicide, combine garlic, khakibos and cayenne pepper. The garlic and cayenne pepper work at deterring insects such as aphids from eating plants. Organic farming is becoming more common in urban settings as people are realising the impact that non-organic farming is having on the environment.


Out of touch with food

Many organic farmers believe that people have lost touch with their food. This is why they have decided to pursue organic farming. It is a way to educate themselves and their communities on the farming process, showing young children where milk, eggs and meat really come from. Organic farming methods have allowed the agricultural sector to address its impact on the environment and make the necessary changes to become more sustainable.

The success of organic farming in South Africa has meant that many small scale farms are producing delicious food for markets and for commercial stores, while providing their communities with education on their methods and reasoning. Many people do not consider how their food choices impact the environment and both urban and rural farmers.‚Äč

organic farming - South Africa