Organic Fertilizer: The Underestimated Component in Agricultural Transformation Initiatives for Sustainable Small Holder Farming in Nigeria
Emphasis on increase agricultural productivity of small holder rural peasants from the perspective of soil conditioning has been on chemical fertilizer while the impact of the bio-organic input has been neglected. This paper examines this issue through a combination of review of available literature and a micro survey of 120 farmers purposively selected from Sabon-gari local government area of Kaduna state, Nigeria. Using a checklist of questions, data were collected for three farming seasons and simple descriptive techniques were employed in data analysis. The study reveals that acreage among the respondents was very small (2-5 acres mostly) and this has no significant impact on chemical fertilizer utilization. Organic fertilizers used include soil from waste dumpsite, cattle and poultry waste and crop residues. These nonchemical fertilizers are consistently used (>50%) and the costs are cheaper than the chemical fertilizers though with some drawbacks such as not being readily available in required quantity and longer duration of releasing nutrients required by plants. To maximise overall socioeconomic and environmental benefits of organic fertilizers, the recommendations proffered include developing an integrated multidisciplinary soil fertility restoration that will incorporate farmers’ perception into mainstream research; implementing a reward system for farmers and researchers who utilize inorganic fertilizers.
Key words: Organic input, environmental remediation, food security, small-holder rural farmers, sustainable agriculture, agricultural transformation