Ancient farming method promises hope to combat climate change

tilling the soil. Doing it the old way can manage impact of climate change

tilling the soil. Doing it the old way can manage impact of climate change



Worry about the effect of climate change on food production in Liberia? A team of international researchers say old farming techniques used in Liberia and other West African countries 700 years ago could save farmlands from the harms of climate change and increase food production.

The secret is in the simple technique of converting nutrients-poor rainforest soil into fertile farmland. When applied across the world, the technique may prevent food shortages in many of the world’s poorest regions, according to the researches.

The research team was led by the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. They included soil scientists and anthropologists from the Institute of Development Studies, Aarhus, Universities of Cornell and Accra. It was the first time that the experts identified and analyzed rich fertile soils in Ghana and Liberia.

The researchers discovered that the ancient

West African farming method added kitchen waste and charcoal to nutrient-poor, highly weather tropical soils. “This trick transformed the land into carbon rich, fertile black soils” which the researchers called “Africa Dark Earth,” a report published in the journal, Frontiers in Ecology and Environment, says.

During the research, the scientists analyzed 27 sites in Ghana, and 150 sites in Northwest Liberia. They found that the highly fertile soil contained 200 -300 percent more organic carbon that other soils lack.

“This soil is capable of supporting far more intensive farming,” the study said.

In a statement, University of Sussex professor James Fairhead said: “Mimicking this ancient method has the potential to transform thousands of people living in some of the most poverty and hunger stricken regions of Africa.”

However, Professor Fairhead acknowledged more work needed to be done on the outcome of the study. But Prof. Fairhead strongly believes the simple, effective ancient farming practice could be the answer to major global challenges such as developing ‘climate smart’ agricultural system which feed growing population and adapt to climate change.

The lead author of the research report, Dr. Dawit Solomon from Cornell University, said it’s amazing that Amazonia and Africa, two different communities, living in completely different parts of the world achieved something that modern-day agricultural practices could not achieved.

“The discovery of this indigenous climate smart soil management practice is extremely timely,” he says. “This valuable strategy to improve soil fertility while also contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation in Africa could become an important component of the global climate smart agricultural management strategy to achieve food security.”


Filed in: Breaking

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