In the age of sustainability, there are some words that get people encouraged and excited, they include “Green”, “Eco”, “Climate Change” and “Organic”, just to name a few. Unfortunately, the word that has been most grossly misused and abused, especially in this country is the word “Organic“. So, what does Organic really mean? Back in the day, before the age of sustainability, the word organic was mostly associated with an aspect of chemistry class called Organic Chemistry (which refers to a class of chemical compounds having carbon basis). It also referred to items being or relating to or derived from or having properties characteristic of living organisms. Now, it is increasingly associated or referred to products and services that uses the most healthy and earth-friendly means or methods to achieve it’s aim. This latter definition of Organic is what this post will be addressing. As you may already know, I am an urban organic grower going pro and as a result, I scavenge for as much information as possible regarding what it really means to be organic as it relates to food and food products (as well as skin, hair and body products). But in this journey I am meeting more people especially in Nigeria who are really misusing and abusing this movement. The term Organic has become more of a catchphrase or marketing scheme used to lure people to buy their products by any means.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs it defines Organic Farming as “Organic farming is a method of crop and livestock production that involves much more than choosing not to use pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and growth hormones. Organic production is a holistic system designed to optimize the productivity and fitness of diverse communities within the agro-ecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock and people. The principal goal of organic production is to develop enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.” I believe that one of the main reasons for this misuse and abuse is that people on the outside tend to see the term organic as an opportunity to cash in, because the prices of organic related products are higher than other products.
The reason I’m bringing this up is that, I recently met with someone who is starting out as a “Proud Organic Farmer” but encountered a weed challenge. And the solution, the farmer could come up with is GLYPHOSATE & ARTRAZINE!!! If you are well versed in these issues, you can imagine my horror. These chemicals have been labelled as carcinogens by the WHO and an organic farmer intended to use it to clear the weed on the land. I tried giving the farmer more organic related suggestions to manage the weed, but it seemed liked with every suggestion I raised, there was a reason why it would not work. The understanding of the farmer was that the chemical will dry up and “go away” after 2 weeks. If you’re familiar with chemicals, you will know that they don’t “go away”. The moment you use them, they take years to break down and the microorganisms who are supposed to break them down are usually killed off by the same chemicals. So, the question going through my head is “if you’re an organic farmer how come you don’t know this? How prepared are you to be an organic farmer? The truth is being an organic farmer takes work, most times back breaking work but you know what? That is the honour in being an organic farmer.
This issue is very important to me because I am a part of this movement. I and a host of other people who are passionate about organic foods/products and advocate for it, find it frustrating when people who don’t understand the fundamentals use the term flippantly. If you are an intending organic farmer or entrepreneur, please take time out to find out what it means to be an organic entrepreneur or farmer. What are the methods involved? What are the risks and rewards? What resources and references you would need? What systems and methods are allowed and prohibited? Please note that it is okay to be a successful farmer or entrepreneur without the term Organic. People will still patronize you if you are meeting their need.
It is feels great to ride off the high that a particular sector brings, but please if you choose to benefit from the high also make sure that you are willing to put in the work required.
Have you also noticed the misuse or abuse of the term organic? Leave a comment and tell us your experience.