SINGAPORE - Organic farming deserves more credit than it was given in last Friday's Long Interview with Mr Lim Hong Zhuang ("Betting the farm").
In the article, Mr Lim called organic farming a "hippie hoax" and stated that he considered it "taking a step back because fertilisers and chemicals were invented for good reason".
Farming organically without pesticides and chemical fertilisers means using methods that nourish, build and protect the soil.
Instead of using chemical fertilisers such as urea or ammonium nitrate, organic farmers use naturally derived compost and organic fertilisers to nurture the soil.
This may not have a fast or immediate effect on crop growth, but it helps to build up the soil and protect the environment.
Conversely, chemical fertilisers have a strong direct effect on crops, but unused chemicals are deposited into the soil and our waterways.
This results in pollution, and top soil eventually becomes useless.
Mr Lim is right in saying that "organic farming is very difficult in our equatorial climate". However, it is not impossible - we have been doing it for more than eight years in Johor.
Organic farmers have different ways of preventing pest outbreaks, such as growing vegetables in netted and sheltered areas and using natural methods to drive pests away.
Much research into organic farming in recent years has resulted in the introduction of successful methods of reducing chemical use in conventional farms.
Organic farming contributes to beneficial change and progress in the agricultural industry. This is certainly forward-looking and not "taking a step back".
There are many more organic food consumers today compared with 10 years ago. Many appreciate the premium quality of organic food.
They also have peace of mind in serving fresh vegetables - grown without pesticides and chemicals - to their families.
Tai Seng Yee
Zenxin Organic Food Singapore
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