A New Generation Of Farmers Takes The Lead

Published on: December 1, 2020

(November 30. 2020) David Attenborough’s recent documentary “A Life on Our Planet” offers a sobering view of the decline of our planet during his generation’s lifetime. The burden of conventional agriculture on nature and its diversity of species is astounding.

Yet, the documentary also presents solutions for reversing agricultural damage by creating more diverse landscapes and working with nature as “our biggest ally and inspiration”.

A new generation of farmers is taking the lead.

Nutritionist and farmer

During my trip to Ecuador earlier this month, to meet with our teams and talk to Palm Done Right farmers, I met with Ricardo Mejía and his daughter Evelyn, owners of ‘Estefania’ farm in Quevedo Canton. It was still early in the morning when we reached their farm. While the sunlight was peeping through the palm leaves Evelyn shared her beautiful story.

Evelyn, a trained nutritionist, initiated the transition to shift their 230 hectares farm from conventional to organic practices, “During my education to become a nutritionist, I learned about the harmful effects chemicals have on human health. Growing up on a farm, I am also aware of how using chemicals damages soil health. This realization motivated me to find another way to grow our crops — by eradicating the use of synthetic inputs and pest control and working with nature instead.”

Converting to organic

Working diligently with her father and training their workers vigorously, Evelyn started running their plantation by using a new set of principles. They began replacing synthetic inputs with organic fertilizer, planting cover crops, and using natural interventions to control pests. This level of commitment takes passion and rigor considering that it takes three years to become certified organic. And it takes upfront investments to convert a plantation to organic management and to comply with all the necessary requirements.

Worth the investment

“It is worth our time, effort, and investment”, says Evelyn joyfully. From her mindset as a nutritionist, she fully appreciates the many health benefits organic agriculture brings, “Exposing our farmworkers to chemicals is a serious issue. The long-term effect on their health is harmful. I am very happy we have found a solution.” It is not only Evelyn, her father, and their workers who reap the benefits of organic practices, nature benefits as well. A shift away from chemical-intensive agriculture has a significant positive impact on biodiversity and other environmental benchmarks, like soil health. And consumers, like you and me, are also gaining from farmers taking the lead shifting to organic agricultural practices. A recent article in The Guardian cites research proving that an organic diet can reduce pesticides in our bodies. This research shows that “Switching to an organic diet decreased levels of Roundup’s toxic main ingredient, glyphosate, by 70% in just six days.”

What can you do?

“If we act now, we can yet put it right,” says David Attenborough in his documentary. We need more farmers like Ricardo and Evelyn, to make a transition to organic agriculture and “work with nature instead of against it”. And most farmers are willing and ready to do it. But they need you to reward their efforts by choosing willfully and buying clean and organic food and personal care products. Choices matter, empower the change we need to see.

Written by Monique van Wijnbergen, Natural Habitat’s Sustainability & Corporate Communications Director and spokesperson for Palm Done Right. 

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