African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development

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An overview use and impact of organic and synthetic farm inputs in developed and developing countries

K. Tsion, W. Steven


This review assesses the general view of conventional and organic farming. Many studies have revealed that the continuous use of synthetic farm inputs has a negative effect on the soil, producers, products and the ecosystem. The lack of knowledge, capital and information has affected farmers’ actions and decisions regarding synthetic and organic farm inputs. In developed countries, farmers have been selective in applying only limited amounts of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides to reduce the concentrations of heavy metal and harmful chemicals in the farming environment. Literature shows that soil samples taken after cultivation had higher concentrations of Lead, Cadmium and Arsenic, when compared to the concentrations of these heavy metals in soil before cultivation. There is a clear evidence that undesirable levels of heavy metals develops in soils subjected to different farm inputs. This indicates that farm input can have adverse effects on soil ecosystem. The pesticides use in Africa generally increased by about 6% from 2002 to 2014. Therefore, there is a need to create awareness on the use of synthetic farm inputs. In developing countries, farmers are exposed to banned and harmful farm inputs, which could affect human health and the ecosystem. Intensified knowledge, access to correct information and alternative organic farm inputs are required to transform the existing conventional farming to organic farming practices. Developing countries should extend their knowledge and information of the farming system to decrease the impact of synthetic farming inputs on the environment, the soil ecosystem and public health. Governmental organizations (GOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should develop a willingness to take the proper measures to facilitate and implement proper mechanisms; to intensify alternative natural farm inputs to obtain relevant knowledge and capital to sustain organic farming practices and to contribute to the security of the food supply, human health and the environment.

Keywords: Organic agriculture, conventional agriculture, environment, harmful farm inputs, heavy metals

Afr. J. Food Agric. Nutr. Dev. 2019; 19(3): 14517-14540

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