This article was inspired by my dearest wife’s Facebook sharing and some recent personal readings – Organic Farming and the Quran.
The post that she shared was by Riverford Organic Farmers, a UK-based organic farm company. In the post, it contains a wee video where Guy Watson, Riverford’s founder shared their reason for not using pesticides to manage the pests problems in his farm.
I thought he was extremely courageous and far-sighted to not use chemicals on his crops, even though they were labelled by the authorities as “safe-for-use”. By starting his farm without these protections, his harvests were at a high risk of being infested. And if you are farming for a living, that would mean risking your earnings.
Interestingly for him, when his crops were hit by leek, a disease spread by rain splash in warm weather, he thought he would lose his crop. He was advised to spray them with fungicide but refused. Instead, when the weather turned cold, the leeks naturally disappeared and he got a fantastic harvest!
As he shared, by not depending on the chemicals, they had to study how they could promote diversity to protect their crops.
“We slowly found that by managing the habitat to encourage the predatory insects, and indeed sometimes actually introducing predatory insects, that we could control all those pests. Interestingly 20 years later that’s what everyone is doing because all the chemicals they were using, either the insects have acquired resistance or they have been banned because they are not safe for use. Almost everyone is now using an ecological approach to insect control in greenhouses.” – Guy Watson, Riverford.
There are valuable lessons we could learn from Riverford’s experience and link them back to the Quran.
3 Quranic Lessons from Organic Farming
1.Something might be difficult but good for you
[Quran, Surah al-Baqarah, 2: 216] “Fighting is ordained for you, even though you dislike it. But it may be that you dislike something while it is good for you, and it may be that you like something while it is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know.”
In the case of using pesticide, the benefits will be that you will be able to have a bigger harvest and more profits. However, as proven, more and more chemicals used are found to be safe for consumption, let alone use.
Instead, by promoting biodiversity in organic farming to manage the pests problems led to a healthier grade of crops. While it may be more difficult and have a seemingly higher chance of lower yield, the benefits outweigh the pesticide option.
2.Seek knowledge from those who know
[Quran, Suran an-Nahl, 16: 43] “We did not send before you except men whom We inspired. So ask the people of knowledge, if you do not know.”
In managing an organic farm, Guy Watson shared,
“To arrive at a saner agricultural system, we really do need to invest in knowledge and we can’t expect private enterprise to do this because it doesn’t produce something that is sale-able.”
In other words, the industry needed to seek experts who have the knowledge and understands how to operate an organic farm. When they started out, there is definitely information which they did not know hence the reliance on people with knowledge to help guide and inform their practices.
3.Sustainable Management of Earth’s Resources
[Quran, Suran al-Fatir, 35: 39] “It is He who made you successors on earth…”
The works by Riverford is a great example of respectfully managing Earth’s resources. Humans have been created to be successors on Earth. And being a successor implies that we have the trust to build the Earth while also using its resources wisely and sustainably.
In inorganic farming, through the use of pesticides, we will be killing bees and other insects. While these creatures are small, they have major roles in helping the crop to grow. The different predatory insects have a role too and if properly managed will help to control the pests in the farms. Hence, through organic farming, we are able to grow food while managing the habitats and not destroying or wiping out other God’s creations.
I totally applaud Riverford’s organic farming efforts and encourage all farmers to re-look at their practices. Sustainable farming may be a long road to take but the benefits last longer. For us who are not farmers, this simple case study does have lessons suggests to us to relook at our respective practices and strive for a sustainable way of living.