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Radio's Positive Impact on Green Agriculture

Agriculture contributes significantly to environmental problems, yet is also critical to sustaining human life. As our population continues to grow, how can we do more with less? And with less environmental impact? In Africa and other developing regions, radio is an important part of the solution.

Earth Day is a time to reflect on the various ways that human beings are part of and interact with the environment. A time to commit to changing our ways, and living more lightly and harmoniously with our fellow earthlings. With the world’s population quickly approaching 7.5 billion, it’s important that we learn to do more with less, and to share.

The practice of agriculture — whether to produce food, beverages, fabric, fuel or medicine — is high on the list of human activities with the greatest impact on the environment. It inevitably involves transforming natural environments in some way. Unwanted plants and animals are repelled or removed in favour of the ones we chose to raise. Trees are cut down, grasslands cleared, and wetlands drained in order to access agricultural land. We remove biomass that would otherwise recycle into and nourish the soil. The list goes on.

Indeed, the agriculture sector is currently responsible for up to a third of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: 17 percent directly and 7 to 14 percent through land use changes. Emissions from agriculture, forestry, and fisheries have risen steadily alongside the needs of a growing population, nearly doubling in the past 50 years.

Yet, agriculture is something that we must do. In fact, with the world’s population expected to grow by another billion in the next 15 years, agriculture is more important than ever. For everyone to have a shot at the healthy, happy life they deserve, we’ll need to do more farming — only better. We cannot feed billions of people by hunting, scavenging, and harvesting wild plants. We don’t have any choice but to grow more food, more efficiently, with a shrinking environmental impact. It’s a tall order. So how do we fulfill it?

Promoting eco-friendly farming

A key challenge is to promote and support farming practices and inputs that have the least impact on the environment. These include crop rotation, intercropping, companion planting, drip irrigation, organic fertilizers, avoiding tillage, integrating trees, keeping areas beside rivers and streams wild, and using mulch to keep soils covered and return organic matter to the earth.

Graham Holliday

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