Interview: Sustainable Agriculture with Wisdom Aigbefo
Wisdom Aigbefo is an agricultural entrepreneur who is passionate about sustainable agriculture. He kindly agreed to chat with me on Twitter about his experience with sustainable agriculture, as well as some practice action farmers can take to make their work more sustainable.
Please give us a brief background about your work
I farm for a living. I grow crops like cassava, plantain, vegetables, etc. I also assist people start-up and, if they want, manage their farms (In my locality).
What does sustainable agriculture mean, and what are some of the principles surrounding it?
Sustainable agriculture refers to farming (crops and animals production) in which certain strategies are applied, to ensure long term profits, reduce pollution, and improve the quality of life for both farmers and the populace.
How do you apply these sustainable agriculture principles to your own work in agriculture?
There are almost as many ways to reach these goals as there are farms in Nigeria. For instance, at the moment I have adopted the use of organomineral fertilizer (a combination of poultry manure and NPK) for all crops grown on my farm. So while the NPK is immediately available for use by the crop, the poultry manure releases nutrients slowly into the soil. Also, we try to reduce tractor involvement (minimum tillage), where we can, in order to avoid loss of top soil. Furthermore, would rather have frequent manual or mechanical weeding and less use of herbicides due to its long term detrimental effects.
What are other actions farmers can take to make their practices more sustainable?
Some of these include the following:
- Nomads take their Cattle about grazing on fields to keep them low, while their keep the fields rich in nutrients.
- Planting of cover crops and crop rotation, to help maintain low soil temperature, maximize rainfall and boost organic matter.
- Possible elimination of the use of urea and other inorganic fertilizers. They are acidic and kill life in the soil.
- Engage in free range rearing of animals as opposed to heavily populated and confined conditions. let me pause here.
How have customers responded to your work in sustainable agriculture?
Folks would definitely prefer sustainable approaches. The setback lies in the fact that Nigeria has not achieved Food Security. And conventional approaches are rather cheaper to apply, but with immediate and future detrimental effects.
How have investors responded to your work in sustainable agriculture?
Investors are highly optimistic. They have done their research and are well informed of the long term profits.
How do you see sustainable agriculture growing in an economy like Nigeria?
Nigeria is a fertile ground for the promotion of sustainable agriculture. We are no novice to sustainable agriculture. Majority of our local farmers actually practice sustainable farming, only they are too poor to go on a larger and profitable scale.
Questions from participants
Whats the minimum amount to start a business as a sustainable farmer?
Internship! Observe and learn and make connections. you might even get paid for that. Chose the area you want in the vast agricultural business field. This would help you know where you may fancy putting your money, and how much of it is needed.
How would you advise someone who is interested in this but has little or no experience at all?
Like I said in response to the previous question, internship will help you learn and make connections.