IN CONVERSATION: Alternatives to the Commercialisation of Food Production

I am practising organic farming.  Since 2002 l started to learn about farming using available resources, that time people used to call it permaculture (which is short for permanent agriculture). As time went on they changed to organic farming, these day people are calling it agroecology, but it doesn’t mean they are three different methods of farming, its only a matter of words. People normally use words that are trendy or popular.

In organic farming or agroecology we use available resources, e.g. manure from cows, rabbit, chickens, pig, goats and manure from our compost. We also make our liquid manure some people call it tea manure. Instead of using compound D we use compost manure; instead of using Ammonia Nitrate we use liquid manure. We also intercrop our plants, for example maize with cowpeas, pumpkins, watermelons and beans, all these are nitrogen fixers. We also practice agroforestry that involves the mixing of crops and trees. I use intercropping; agroforestry and crop rotation. I decided to use this type of farming because it is cheap, l can use what l have (available resources), it is for both poor and rich people and it is good for health  because we don’t use chemicals.

Agroecology is basically the production of food that has consciousness of the ecology and is centered on the use of local resources that are easily accessed by rural women. This is quite cheap because it encourages local seed saving, water harvesting and the use of organic manure. Agroecology nurtures the environment, it cools down the earth and it enhances carbon sinkings in the soil. Some techniques such as agroforestry mines nutrients and at the same time provides diverse foods. Water harvesting improves ground water supplies and maintains a living soil.

Agroecological agriculture is a central building block in the construction of food sovereignty among rural women. Food sovereignty recognizes the rural women’s contribution in food production. Food security and food sovereignty are parallel concepts. Food security is just access to food whether it is low nutrient or whatever whilst food sovereignty is access to and control over production of balanced nutritional food. The production is usually through use of local resources. This is the reason why we as ZIMSOFF struggle to achieve food sovereignty in order to alleviate poverty.

*This article was submitted by Esnati Mutembedza. Esnati is a small holder farmer and a member of ZIMSOFF.

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