Why farmers should utilise organic fertilisers, by technologist

Jan 16, 2017, 06:02 AM

Against the backdrop of the widespread use of chemical manure, the Nigerian government has been urged to promote the use of organic fertilisers to produce healthy foods for local consumption and export, as well as check environmental degradation.

An agricultural technologist, Gregory Ohiaeri, made the call recently while taking journalists on a tour of an organic fertiliser manufacturing facility at Odoguyan, Ikorodu, Lagos. The facility is being operated by EarthCare Nigeria Limited.

Organic fertilisers are fertilisers derived from animal matter, animal excreta (manure), human excreta, and vegetable matter (such as compost and crop residues). Naturally occurring organic fertilisers include animal wastes from meat processing, peat, manure, slurry, and guano.

He said: “Nowadays, products exported from Africa are being rejected due to contamination, mainly from the use of harmful chemicals. The only thing that kills people is what goes through the mouth. So people eat this food that is produced or grown with chemical fertiliser; and, because the plants are like humans like us, they receive those minerals.

“These chemicals go into their system and eventually we human beings eat the foods. And we can develop anything; cancer and all kinds of diseases. We can have blindness and others. This also applies to cattle that go around. Since they use inorganic fertiliser to fertilise the grass, the cow eats it and takes the chemicals. They slaughter the cow and we humans eat the meat.”

According to him, Earthcare Nigeria Limited partners with the Lagos Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) in collecting green wastes from the different markets and even abattoirs in Lagos and the wastes are processed into organic fertiliser.

Ohiaeri, who is the company’s Chief Operating Officer, said inorganic fertilisers not only destroy the soil but also contaminate grasses and foods with deadly chemicals, leading to acceleration of diseases including cancer and eye damage, which are now rampant in the country.

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He said it was high time that the country’s huge farming population was educated on the implications of the types of fertilisers they use, even as there is need to give farmers fertiliser options.

His words: “And if you compare their produces, you will see that for the food produced with chemical fertiliser, the leaves become weak and start to fold within few hours of harvest, while that with organic fertiliser will stay fresh. When it comes to agriculture, the farmers need to be trained and exposed to the best ways of farming to get healthy final products, because food is security for a nation and if the farmers are producing unhealthy food, the people will eat unhealthy food and they will get sick and the nation will be weak.

“Here in Nigeria, the President has been making the effort to support farming. But the problem is that most of the farmers know only rely on inorganic fertiliser that is not very harmful to health. Unfortunately, the sale and application of inorganic fertilisers is not regulated in the country. Because of that, there are challenges. When you go to the western world, you have specialised stores that sell organic produce and inorganic produce, and the people have the choice to choose.

“If you use inorganic or chemical fertiliser over a period of time, it will deplete some of the nutrients in the soil and you have to wait for years to come back to that land. The soil will not have the essential nutrient it needs for particular crops to flourish. And in using chemical fertiliser, you have to apply the right quantity beyond which causes problem to the soil. But with organic fertiliser, there is no overdose. Organic fertiliser will also rejuvenate the soil and generate all the free nitrogen the plant needs. And sometimes when you apply it, because of the biological enzyme...