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Is there is a link between Organic food producers - consumers - the environment and Covid19?

Is there is a link between Organic food producers - consumers - the environment and Covid19?

Good people, the month of May is here with us and with it the “plague” of Covid19 continues unabated… causing untold misery and unprecedented deaths, everywhere.  There is an increasing sense of confusion and despondency.  But one thing is clear; Covid19 attacks the immune system and causes it to dysfunction.

  • Is there anything we can do to strengthen the immune system, which is the first line of defense? At individual, household, community, sub-national and national level?
  • Yes, there is. “Grow and consume organic foods or purchase from your trusted local farmer or from certified organic outlets and consume organic produce rather than the conventional types.” There is emerging evidence that synthetic chemical free foods, grown locally, consisting of a rich diversity IS “medicine” for Covid19.
  • Indeed, as early as 431 BC Hippocrates admonished as such:”Let food be thy medicine..”

This month, our article is done a little differently: We take a detour from the usual links and evidence packaged format of previous blog articles and instead share an interview reprint, from the Standard Newspaper, a local daily, for Saturday May 2, 2020.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have developed nutrition guidelines for adults during theCOVID-19 outbreak.

Although food cannot cure or prevent infection with COVID-19, proper nutrition is important to overall health and well-being. People who eat healthy foods tend to have stronger immune systems and are therefore at lower risk of developing illnesses and contracting infectious diseases than those who consume unhealthy food.

Eating fresh wholesome and unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes such as lentils and beans, nuts and whole grains such as unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat, brown rice, or starchy tubers or roots such as potatoes, pumpkins, yams or cassava and foods from animal sources like meat, fish, eggs, and milk can be of great benefit to our health. The foods are safer and more nutritious, if they are grown (for plants) or reared(for animals) without use of chemical fertilizers and not sprayed with synthetic pesticides and use of antibiotics to fasten growth, in the case of animals.

In our continuing series of interviews with the movers and shakers in the sustainable agriculture sector also known as agroecological agriculture, Charles Kimani speaks to Dr. Peter O. Mokaya, popularly known as Dr. Organic. Dr. Mokaya is the Director and CEO of Organic Consumers Alliance (OCA). He is a Johns Hopkins University and University of Nairobi Medical School trained Public Health Physician and Health Development practitioner with over 30 years of experience in practice and management of healthcare with a focus on preventive Health care, Health Systems Strengthening, Community Health Development among others. More recently he is involved in pan-African leadership, through evidence based policy advocacy, aimed at shifting policies to embrace agroecological and eco-friendly approaches to development, using a systems thinking approach, which emphasizes a multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary approach which puts nutrition and food security at the centre in order to achieve of the Sustainable Development goals whose ultimate objective is achieving the highest quality of life , leaving no one behind.

Tell us about Organic Consumers Alliance (OCA)

This is an Alliance of people who believe in consuming organic or agro ecologically grown food because it is healthier, free of chemicals and grown in tandem or in harmony with the cycles and patterns of nature.

What are the trends in consumption of organic foods especially here in Kenya?

Thank you for asking that question. The younger people in our society have now realized that organic food is synonymous with food that is free from toxins, chemicals and is grown in ways that don’t harm or destroy the environment. Organic produce is safer and healthier, more nutritious, trendy and adds value not just to the consumers but also to those who produce the food in a manner that sustains the soil, ecosystem and the environment. There is a continuum of care between the plants, animals, human beings and the environment. This sense of holistic wellness is what appeals to many organic produce consumers. Many people are now realizing that if they want to be healthy, they need to be eating foods that are agroecologically grown and sold as organic foods, in various outlets, including some supermarkets.

What efforts are being made globally and locally to sensitize consumers on the importance of eating organic foods?

One of the world’s leading trade fair for organic food is the Biofach exhibition in Germany. The food exhibition presents consumers with the perfect opportunity to meet organic producers from the organic market and be inspired by the sector’s latest trends. This is really about alignment with sustainable development goals for enhancing the health of the people, the health of the planet and sustainable profits for the producers. Biofach is the embodiment of the realization of the process of achieving sustainable development goals and its uniqueness is in showcasing ways of growing food without destroying the soil and microorganisms therein, without contaminating the waterways, or polluting the air from use of unnecessary fossil energy. These conventional non-organic food production methods result in more green house gas emissions which contribute to global warming, climate change among other negative manifestations, including harm to human health. Going forward, we are working towards the African region, especially in Kenya, to have a replica of something like Biofach where young people can experience food that is good for health and wellness and not just for consumption, but also as trade and livelihood improvement opportunities. By consuming organically produced foods, we achieve the triple benefits of achieving better health, wealth and protecting the environment. For more information, Dr. Mokaya can reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or check their website here:www.organicconsumers.co.ke

What do you see as the future of organic food production and consumption?

We used to say before that the future is organic. But the future is here with us now. As more and more people especially the young people realize the value of organic foods and benefit from the experience of more wellness, farmers will have more business.  Dr. Mokaya aka “Dr. Organic”  strongly recommends that part of the prevention strategy to mitigate the current pandemic of Covid19 is to strengthen your immunity by consuming safe and diverse organic foods, especially those rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc-Selenium. As much as possible consume organic foods since they don’t have harmful residues as those found in chemically grown and sprayed foods, which may weaken the immune system.

This interview was conducted by Musdalafa Lyaga is the producer of Kilimo Hai, a farmer radio program on organic farming broadcasted every Thursday at 7.30 PM on Radio Maisha while Charles Kimani is the farmer feedback officer at Biovision Africa

 

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About Us

Organic Consumers Alliance (OCA) focuses on promoting and creating awareness on

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Office Location

ICIPE Complex, Kasarani Road

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Contact Us

P.O. Box 2398-00200
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 20 2610863
Cell: +254 722 435 758
Email: info@organicconsumers.co.ke