Nature Cycle: Organic Farming In Tanzania Telesphor R. Magobe - Environmental degradation in Tanzania is increasing at an alarming pace due to mainly human factors. Destructive human activities such as deforestation, intensive grazing, dumping of toxic wastes, regular application of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides have negative effects on bio-diversity and ecosystems. These phenomena are neither congruent with agricultural productivity nor socio-economic progress. As many farmers still practise monoculture, new pests and diseases often attack crops and affect their crop production. This leaves the farmers at the level of subsistence farming and subjects some to live below the poverty line. What worries more is the fact that even with conventional agriculture, which is supposed to increase productivity, farm output in rural areas is still poor. In the past, environmental education and good farming methods were not new in Tanzanian schools. Both school children and adults (through adult education) learned how to keep a healthy environment, manage a farm, use appropriate farming methods, prepare a balanced family diet, create food security and improve household income. Primary schools, adult education centres, secondary schools and institutes of higher learning promoted environmental protection and conservation through sustainable agriculture, particularly, organic farming. Schools had farms where pupils and students practised what they studied in class. Agriculture was a highly recommended subject in the school curriculum. Nowadays, however, things have changed considerably and priorities too. In schools and colleges, information communication technologies (ICTs) have taken over and, therefore, computer science seems to overshadow environmental education. How many pupils or students today know what is sustainable farming or environmental conservation? Is agriculture still seen as the backbone of the nation as it used to be a few years ago? Do pupils, students and adults of today know this formula: before cutting a tree, plant three? Or know that before the soil feeds you, feed it first? Nature cycle concerns about such questions! It is about the interdependence between human and environmental health. This reciprocal relationship is very important because human activities can either contribute to environmental protection and conservation or destruction. Apparently, positive human activities lead to environmental protection and the negative ones to degradation. The consequence is disastrous to the nature cycle biodiversity and ecosystems. Envirocare (Environmental, Human Rights Care and Gender Organisation), is a Tanzanian non-governmental organisation that promotes organic farming methods in the country. The organisation encourages farmers to improve soil fertility through the application of compost manure as an alternative farm input for industrial fertilisers, which are too expensive to small-scale farmers and eventually exhaust the soil. Compost manure increases soil micro-organisms and improves soil fertility. In areas where farmers are used to chemical fertilizers, the soil is exhausted by such chemicals and the farmers are exposed to ecological vagaries. In areas where farmers use compost manure and practise organic farming, they are sure of eating organic foodstuffs and living in a natural and healthy environment. So, the application of compost manure replenishes soil fertility and it is ideal for rural farmers. It is very simple. Just think of making your own compost manure near your home or garden. You can learn how to make it or probably you know already how to make one. This can be done at anytime of the year and you are able to do it. It is simply a way of recycling everything that comes from the land so that it can be returned to the land to be used again. You can collect manure from animals and plants: goats, cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, grass, leaves and plants. For livestock keepers it is easier for them to obtain animal manure. But it is possible that some of them dont know how to make use of it. If the animals are fed at home, just collect the grass or leaves that are mixed with animal manure. This makes the process even quicker for decomposition. You can speed up the process of decomposition by pre-mixing plant or grass matter with animal manure and water. Choose a nice site, e.g. under a tree where there is enough shade to keep the moisture. Mark a site e.g. 1-2 m by 1 m. Loosen the earth, place twigs and broken branches in a 10 cm layer over the whole square. Mix together the plant materials and animal manure and add some water. Add some ashes, lime and soil over the pile. Make another layer by placing two poles in the compost and lay other poles across. Continue making layers until all the plant materials are used. Add some water (by sprinkling) and cover the top with leaves. Repeat the stages as you see it necessary (e.g. pouring water) to speed up the decomposition process. The compost will continue for 2-3 weeks as the microbes in the soil break down the materials into rich humus full of plant nutrients. The compost may be ready for use in 3-4 weeks, if not, turn the heap over again until you have humus. Once the compost is ready you can now use it in your farm or garden. Some farmers grow vegetables at home and this probably is not a new thing for them. Thus, compost manure is a simple and affordable way of making the soil regain its strength (nutrients) and keep the plants healthy. Organic farming enables you to have healthy products and a healthy soil (full of nutrients). So, do something positive to the soil and you will see wonders. This is how the nature cycle is maintained!