National Farming Techniques: Solution to Global Food Shortage?
Across the globe a growing trend is emerging in favour of simple, natural farming techniques. Instead of trying to outsmart nature, communities around the world are looking for ways to work with nature and are boosting their productivity. This comes as welcome news amidst talks of worldwide food crisis largely brought on by unreliable climate.
Below are three such techniques which have revolutionised farming for millions of people in some of the toughest climates.
The System of Rice Intensification
The System of Rice Intensification which has recently been featured in The Guardian has produced record amount of rice per harvest and could play a role in the solution to world food shortages. The technique involves planting half as many seeds, spacing them further apart and keeping the soil much drier than rice is usually kept in. This ‘less is more’ basis has been introduced to India over the last 3 years by Rajiv Kumar, a young Bihar state government extension worker who had been trained by a small Indian NGO called Pran (Preservation and Proliferation of Rural Resources and Nature). This technique has resulted in one Indian villager producing an incredible 22.4 tonnes of rice from one hectare of land as opposed to 4 or 5 tonnes which he had previously been growing.
Floating Vegetable Gardens
Floating Vegetable Gardens are beating the flooding in Bangladesh by harnessing technology developed by the Aztecs that is hundreds of years old. In Bangladesh flooding is now a yearly occurrence and due to climate change is an occurrence that looks set to stay. These gardens work with the climate rather than against it. A raft of branches or reeds is constructed, filled with soil and seeds are sown. Crops can rise above flood waters meaning that regardless of flooding families can always assure that they have nutrition, trading does not grind to a halt and that means less economical fluctuations due to extreme weather.
Conservation Farming has 4 simple principles:
- Disturb the soil as little as possible
- Use natural processes as well as fertiliser to replenish its nutrients
- Leave crop residue in place rather than burning it off
- Rotate crops
This technique has resulted in Elleman Mumba from Zambia becoming an overnight celebrity due to his bumper crop. His wife had been taught the technique in a free training session and persuaded him to try it. At first Elleman was accused of using witchcraft by fellow villagers and his success was met with suspicion. He explained to them that ‘you conserve water, so even when the rains are light, you are able to get something.’ Many of those that called him a witchdoctor have now embraced the technique. It is a trend that seems set to stay.