A case for organic agriculture
I am suggesting a coupling of organic agriculture with a greater enabling approach to export, because combined they represent a large potential for sustainable growth, employment and health of our nation.
Beginning immediately, organic should become the default agricultural system in our island. Global turnover of organic foods in 2009 was estimated at US$55 billion and growing at 25 per cent per year, which would make it more than US$107 billion by the end of 2012.
Europe has 8.3m hectares in organic agriculture managed by 222,000 people, approximately 37 persons per hectare. One hectare = 2.4711 acres. This makes organic farming a potentially large absorber of labour. The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge and Science and Technology for Development, a group of 400 scientists and experts on agriculture throughout the world, was brought together under the sponsorship of the United Nations and asked to come up with an answer to the question: How can we reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihood and facilitate equitable, environmentally, socially and economically sustainable development?
Overwhelmingly, organic/agro ecological agriculture was given as the answer. Decades of research confirm that organic agriculture produces crop yields that are comparable (under normal weather conditions) or even 50-70 per cent superior (during droughts or excessive rain) to chemical farming.
Nutritional studies show that organic crops are qualitatively higher in vitamin content and trace minerals, and that fresh, unprocessed organic foods boost the immune system and reduce cancer risks. We have the need, the labour, the land and the expertise. All we need now is the will.