As the world celebrates the World Food Safety Day, the fraternity at Go Green Na Optiven is working with partners to encourage organic farming as a key contribution towards food safety. In partnership with Ecoh Ltd, and it’s Chief Executive Mr. Edwin Kamau, we were able to bring you these insights as we celebrate World Food Safety Day 2021 under the theme Safe food now for a healthy tomorrow. Mr. Kamau graciously agreed to an interview with Go Green Na Optiven ahead of the global observation.
WELCOME TO GO GREEN NA OPTIVEN MR. KAMAU AND GIVE US AN OVERVIEW OF WHAT YOU DO
We convert organic waste into organic fertilizer in 24hrs using an energy efficient machine, at a temp of 95°C. Ecoh Limited has a demostration farm that is purely organic, and uses climate smart agriculture technologies. Growing herbs and spices, apples, pomegranates, oranges, moringa, vegetables and most importantly, trees! We are promoting organic farming and climate resilience to farmers in all counties. We are located opposite Ponds Kinanie, Machakos County www.ecoholdingslimited.com and you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
THANK YOU FOR THAT GREAT INTRODUCTION AND WE SHALL VISIT TO SEE WHAT YOU ARE DOING. AS WE CELEBRATE THE WORLD FOOD SAFETY DAY, WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON FOOD SAFETY?
Thank you Kate for that fundamental question. A lot is currently wanting, as we need to look at it from “cradle to death”. As long as we continue to heavily depend on synthetic chemicals in food production, we cannot guarantee food safety while consuming it. From planting, food must be grown in soils free of toxics and heavy metals. The handling within the value chains must ensure that pathogens are eliminated and no harmful preservatives are used. These may help improve food safety.
INTERESTING BUT WITH AN INCREASE IN DISEASE AS A RESULT OF DANGER IN FOOD, MR. KAMAU WHAT CAN BE DONE TO IMPROVE THE FOOD WE EAT?
Ecoh Limited – as an organisation, in our own small way, we ventured into recycling food & market waste to make organic fertilizer that revitalizes the soil health to enable increased safe food production by focusing on feeding the soil, not the plants.
Using lots of compost and well decomposed manure, will greatly enhance not only the quantity produced, but the Quality of the foods grown as they will be nutrient dense foods. These will impact greatly on our health and wellbeing enabling our bodies to fight disease and infections naturally.
TALKING OF NATURE, WE ADVOCATE FOR IT AS THE FIRST MEDICINE HERE AT GO GREEN. IN YOUR EXPERTISE AND EXPERIENCE IN MATTERS ORGANIC, HOW CAN WE AVOID POISON ON THE PLATE?
Allow me to thank one of your partners GMC Place Kitengela. The outlet has been growing it’s own food I think beginning this year and it is a great example especially for hotels who are keen on going the extra mile in offering quality meals to customers.
No regarding poison on the plate, let us follow the GMC Place Kitengela way. Kate did you know that by growing your own food, it will enable you control first How and secondly What is used as inputs for food production. Many of us, back in the days, our grand)parents had a tiny backyard garden/farm, where all kinds of vegetables and fruits grew organically to feed the family. We need to re-establish these gardens for safe food production first for ourselves and secondly for the people we sell these foods to.
Kate, you can also use buckets, sacks, storey-tower gardens, basically what we need is to be creative with open spaces for use in safe food production. Then we also have lots of organic farmers who grow safe foods in the country and during all Saturdays there is always the organic farmers market taking place. Buy foods from them, to avoid the poison in the plate.
THAT BRINGS TO QUESTION THE KIND OF EXAMPLES WE ALSO SET FOR OUR CHILDREN. I BELIEVE EVERY CHILD SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN PLANTING SOMETHING TO ENABLE THEM LEARN ABOUT SAFE FOOD. BUT ON TO OUR NEXT QUESTION, WHERE IS THE PLACE OF PERMACULTURE IN FOOD SAFETY?
That is a paramount question in matters food safety Kate. What we need is to learn and ape what nature does. Biodiversity is key, ploughing back into the soil the plant debris to increase soil health that boosts microbial biodiversity is critical for food production. Mimicking nature will always enable us grow better, healthier, nutritious and safe foods using local inputs that are indigenous to the area. Thus, it’s critical to embrace, incorporate and blend permaculture with local technologies to ensure safe foods.
It will also enable us enhance land restoration to safe guard against climate change and its negative impacts. Allow me to quote the video I saw at the launch of the Green Gardens at GMC Place Kitengela. The use of locally available natural manure as well as engagement of local youth means by embracing permaculture we will eat great food, provide health to our soils and offer employment opportunities to those selling compost manure, nurturers of the gardens like Mr. Mwangi and in all we will live happily ever after.
COME TO THINK OF IT MAY WAS THE GLOBAL MONTH FOR COMPOSTING AND AT GO GREEN NA OPTIVEN WE WERE KEEN TO SHARE AS MUCH INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE ON THE SAME. BUT ON MATTERS FERTILIZER, I AM AWARE THAT YOUR COMPANY IS INVOLVED IN ORGANIC FERTILIZER AND HAS BEEN RECOMMENDED IN KENYA, RWANDA AND TANZANIA. IN THE CASE OF KENYA. WOULD YOU SAY WE AS A PEOPE ARE WE WINNING AGAINST PESTICIDES?
To be honest Kate, I am not certain this is a war we will win in this decade or anytime soon in Africa. It’s important to realize that for pesticides are a multibillion business and Africa has been used as a dumping ground for banned pesticides from the first world. The same producer companies are marketing these same banned products here in Africa that are negatively affecting our soils, bee populations and worse our own health.
The other day I was reading about the Optiven Foundation and how it is helping the Cancer Center at the Kenyatta National Hospital and the cases of those suffering are growing. Now with these pesticides negatively affecting our natural biodiversity and gradually killing our soils this is increasing desertification and loss of soil health as well.
THAT IS VERY TRUE AND THE RESULT THEN MEANS WE BECOME FOOD INSECURE, WITH REDUCED HARVESTS
True true when we will begin to focus on building our own soil health, through constant addition of compost to replenish our soil nutrients and ensuring we mulch our soils while adopting conservation agriculture, that is when we will begin winning against pesticides. Soils that are high in nutrients and organic matter, do not require use of pesticides, ever heard or seen anyone going to spray pesticides in the forests?
Why not? The soils are heaving rich in organic matter and nutrients recycled from the leaves, twigs and dead branches. Let’s mimic nature and nature will produce its own pesticides as plants were created with this ability. What is lacking is healthy soils, thus leading to unhealthy plants that are prone to pest and diseases, that require pesticides that only aggravate the situation.
Thus, we need to look at the the whole chain from “cradle to death” of food production.