By Sue Edwards Institute for Sustainable Development, Ethiopia Also representing IFOAM

Land degradation
Soil erosion and desertification are the physical expressions of land degradation, while the social and economic impacts are degraded lifestyles and pernicious poverty. An understanding of how to maintain healthy soil is essential to reverse and prevent land degradation. Healthy soil carries a good plant cover and enables rain water to infiltrate and recharge both soil water and underlying aquifers.

What is IFOAM?
‡ IFOAM, the (International Federation Of Organic Agriculture Movements) has its head office in Bonn, Germany ‡ Its mission is leading, uniting and assisting the organic movement in its full diversity ‡ The goal is the worldwide adoption of ecologically, socially and economically sound systems that are based on the Principles of Organic Agriculture

planning and commitment to work with natural systems. It is more than just a system of production that includes or excludes certain inputs. Practicing organic or agro-ecological agriculture requires ecological knowledge. good nutrition. . because it builds on and enhances the ecological management skills of the farmer. the fisher folk and the pastoralist. safe food. rather than trying to change them. animal welfare and social justice.What is organic agriculture? ‡ Organic agriculture is a whole system approach based upon a set of processes resulting in sustainable ecosystems. particularly agro-chemicals.

IFOAM commissioned a scoping study on ³The Role of Organic Agriculture in Mitigating Climate Change´. ‡ It looked at the possibilities of reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) .Organic agriculture and mitigating climate change ‡ In 2004.

‡ Organic agriculture is a systematic strategy. compulsory standards to be respected. suitable production technologies. and a system of inspection and certification to guarantee adherence to the process . which may reduce GHG emissions and enhance sequestration of carbon ‡ The strategy includes basic principles to be followed.

renewable resources in locally organized production systems ‡ To minimize all forms of pollution .Basic principles ‡ To encourage and enhance biological cycles within the farming system ‡ To maintain and increase long-term fertility in soils ‡ To use. as far as possible.

also grasslands and forests ± Compost and biogas ± Animal husbandry. and controlling grazing ± Paddy cultivation with aeration periods . particularly locally produced and appropriate feeds.Emission Reductions ‡ Carbon dioxide through: ± Avoidance of shifting cultivation ± Reduction of fossil fuel consumption ‡ Methane ± Soil management to increased oxidation of methane.

and use of crops (sunflower seeds) that reduce NO2 emissions .‡ Nitrous oxide ± produced by all forms of nitrogen ± No synthetic N fertilizer is used ± Nitrogen comes from within the system thus avoiding overdoses and high losses ± Animal stocking rates are limited ± Diets for dairy cows lower in protein and higher in fibre.

‡ Biomass as a substitute for fossil fuel ± Directly as a crop ± Processing slurry in biogas ‡ Agroforestry ± Shade trees in plantation crops ± Fuel wood plantation ± Trees in cropland ± Living fences ± etc .

Can organic agriculture combat poverty? ‡ An example from northern Ethiopia ‡ Despite the fact that Ethiopia is also known as the µwater tower¶ of the Horn of Africa. it is better known for the images of emaciated children and the high rate of soil erosion ‡ Can this be reversed? .


with very little vegetation. and very large numbers of free-ranging livestock .The popular image is a desert dry.

out of reach for most smallholder farmers both economically and ecologically .Why the degradation? ‡ Efforts at State building destroyed local organization in most of the country starting from in 2nd half of the 19th century ‡ Development efforts started only in the 1960s and largely ignored smallholder (peasant) farmers despite the fact that 90% or more of the food comes from them ‡ The 1974 µrevolution¶ and its impact on land resource use ‡ The land was mined. and there were no inputs in technologies or ideas to help the farmers improve their productivity ‡ The Sasakawa-Global 2000 approach uses high external inputs.

grazing land.The existing strengths ‡ Farmers control their own seeds and there is still a wealth of agro-biodiversity and farmers¶ traditional knowledge ‡ Traditional methods for managing and using land resources. and this is being strengthened through the present policy of decentralization .g. e. farms are still in place in many communities ‡ Local community members work together.

The components of the project. or basket of choices ‡ Making and using compost (ISD initiative) ‡ Trench bunds for catching both soil and water (BoA initiative) ‡ Planting small multipurpose trees ± particularly Sesbania ± and local grasses (ISD and BoA initiative improved by farmers) ‡ Halting gullies (at farmers demand) ‡ Making communal ponds (farmers initiative) ‡ Making and using bylaws to control access and use of local biological resources and control grazing (ISD initiative) .

Adi Nefas in 1997 and 2003 .

Zeban Sas grazing area in 1996 starting the rehabilitation work Zeban Sas grazing area in October 2003 .

Adi Nefas All the components being used in October 2003 Pond Rehabilitated gully Faba Bea n Sesbania trees and long grasses Composted fields of tef. wheat and barley .


Training on Compost .

and the straw and grain weighed with the farmers. or 8. 10 Birr is equivalent to 1 Euro.Impact of compost on yields Sampling technique (FAO method for monitoring food security) Samples were taken with the farmers. Fields were selected and 3 one-metre square plots were cut and threshed.5 Birr equals 1 USD. .

expenses and returns (in Birr) for Adi Nefas in 2003 (7 years) Crop Faba Bean Finger Millet Maize Teff Input Compost Check Compost Check Compost Check Compost Fertilizer Check Wheat Compost Fertilizer Check Barley Compost Check Yield 4391 2287 2650 833 5480 708 1384 1033 739 2250 1480 842 1633 859 Gross income 13173 6861 4505 1416 8768 1133 3875 2892 2069 5625 3700 2105 3266 1718 Fertilizer cost 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 377 0 0 377 0 0 0 Net income 13173 6861 4505 1416 8768 1133 3875 2515 2069 5625 3323 2105 3266 1718 .Table 1: Grain yields (in kg/ha).

Table 2: Grain yields (in kg/ha). expenses and returns (in Birr) for Adi Gua edad in 2003 (1st year) Gross Fertilizer income cost 8700 3300 2298 3400 2436 850 3200 1813 1088 0 377 0 0 377 0 0 377 0 Crop Faba Bean Input Compost Fertilizer Check Yield 2900 1100 766 2000 1433 500 2000 1133 680 Net income 8700 2923 2298 3400 2059 850 3200 1436 1088 Finger Millet Compost Fertilizer Check Maize Compost Fertilizer Check .

or 8.Table 2: continued Crop Barley Input Compost Fertilizer Check Wheat Compost Fertilizer Check Teff Compost Fertilizer Check Yield 2193 1283 900 1020 1617 590 1650 1150 390 Gross income 4386 2566 1800 2550 4043 1475 4620 3220 1092 Fertilizer cost 0 377 0 0 377 0 0 377 0 Net income 4386 2189 1800 2550 3666 1475 4620 2843 1092 10 Birr is equivalent to 1 Euro.5 Birr equals 1 USD. .

Crops not usually given chemical fertilizer Finger Millet Faba Bean Field Pea These are usually not given much attention. high yield increases have been obtained. but with compost. They were growing on previously composted fields and were benefiting from the residual effect of the compost . It is interesting to see that the checks for faba bean and field pea in Adibo Mossa in 2002 were nearly the same as the compost treatment.

.500 kg/ha when compost is applied.Faba Bean with and without compost Yields have risen from less than 500 kg/ha on non-compost treated fields to around 2.

field pea and finger millet in 3 sites .1998 Field Pea / Adi Abo Mossa/02 Field Pea / Adi Abo Mossa/98 Faba Bean / Adi Abo Mossa/02 Faba Bean / Adi Abo Mossa/98 Finger Millet/ Guroro/02 Finger Millet/ Adi Nefas/02 Compost Check 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 Yield (kg/ha) .Yields (kg/ha) for faba bean.

crops grown on composted soil resist wilting for about two weeks longer than those grown on soil treated with chemical fertilizer. are also grown. maize and faba bean.g. pathogens and insect pests are killed by the high temperature in the compost pits. ‡ Reduced weeds: weed seeds. Ziban Sas was growing only wheat and barley mixed together and a little teff.Indicators of Sustainability ‡ Maintaining or increasing agricultural biodiversity: for example. . but earthworms and other useful soil organisms establish well. ‡ Increased moisture retention capacity of the soil: if rain stops early. but now other crops e.

. ‡ Flavour: food is said to taste better.‡ Disease and pest resistance: as seen through the problem of shoot fly on teff and root borer on faba bean in Tahitai Maichew and La¶elai Maichew respectively. ‡ Residual effect: farmers who have used compost for one or two years can obtain high yields from their crops the next year without applying compost afresh. crops are more disease and pest resistant. but they still get even higher yields. ‡ Economic returns: farmers have been able to stop buying chemical fertilizer.

‡ The results of the farmers in Tigray in producing and using compost indicate that the aim for Ethiopia having a substantial number of farmers producing organically could be realized. the Ethiopian Government passed a law setting out a framework for organic farming.Ethiopia and Organic Production ‡ In March 2006. .

‡ These statutes were developed by consensus to govern the activities of each member as well as that of the whole community in order to manage the land under the usufruct right of each member and the community so that the whole environment in which the community lives and its productivity are improved sustainably. .Protection and promotion of sustainable livelihoods ‡ Developing bylaws has been an essential part of the community decision making and implementation.

Burkino Fasso . mostly women. Ibrahim Abouleish ‡ Organic cotton farmers in Benin ‡ NOGUM and EPOPA in Uganda and Tanzania >2% of production is organic ‡ Dried fruits and vegetables from over 600 producers.Other examples from Africa ‡ SEKEM in Egypt. led by Dr.

A farmer of the future .

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