By Peter Makwanya
As the month of May starts to unfold, the world will be participating in the International Composting Awareness Week, in preparation for the International Composting Day commemorations, on May 29 2021.
In agricultural discourse, the world has since realised that composting, mainly in developing countries, is constantly being backgrounded, under reported, undervalued, including being poorly communicated to a wide range of stakeholders.
As the world is geared to participate in the International Composting Week, it is guided by this essential theme: “Grow…Eat…Compost and Repeat.”
The theme is prescriptive and sufficiently guiding. The awareness week is significant in many respects.
First, it saves as a reminder of the critical nature of compost and its placement in the sustainable agricultural discourse.
Second, it makes it possible for the world to engage in appropriate action and strategies designed to avoid wasting the waste.
Third, it explores how composting can be effectively communicated and practised in the context of negative climate change impacts.
Fourth, it emphasises the role of composting as a cycle and value addition component in resilience building.
Fifth, it states that the overused and tired landscapes of the earth require replenishing and rejuvenation through cost-effective but useful environment saving natural processes, which minimise the impacts of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the agricultural sector and keep global warming under control.
One of the major undoing and regrettable thing as the world commemorates this important date on the international calendar is that the role of communication in empowering communities with transformative knowledge and information is sometimes side-lined and ignored.
The indispensable nature of composting as a pillar of sustainable agriculture and smart farming tool requires comprehensive and inclusive information dissemination and sharing for the benefit of every stakeholder. Through context-specific communication tools and strategies, communities will know why in the first place they are commemorating and celebrating a mere compost composed of waste and unwanted materials.
People need to have knowledge of the value of those materials that are sometimes undervalued and regarded as excess baggage including how they can be turned into opportunities for sustainable living. In this regard, any biodegradable waste can be composted.
The critical nature of this year’s theme, in its cyclical and value addition complection, is that it teaches and reminds the world about many things. That the act of sustainable growing results in meaningful harvests complemented by sustainable eating habits. What is left should not be regarded as waste but something with the potential of adding value to the quality of the soil and the environment, through composting. As a result, this process should not end without it being repeated in order to complete the cycle. Therefore, there is consistency and cohesion in this year’s theme: “Grow…Eat…Compost…Repeat.”
In the context of the changing climate, composting can be classified as an empowering form of sustainable climate smart agricultural practice, with the potential of moisture retention, improving soil’s nutritional value, replenishing and safe-guarding the environment. This also includes intolerance to diseases brought about by a wide range of chemical uses and unsustainable agricultural practices.
In order to fight the negative impacts of climate change, composting is one of the dependable action-oriented strategies that help to keep global warming under control. Due to aeration, compost can fight GHGs accumulation and building during the process of decomposition.
This is important because greenhouse gas emissions should be constantly checked and managed so that the atmosphere stays safe and clean.
Composting is a proven form of environmental friendly and safe fertilizer which is critical in reducing toxins, carbon footprints and unsustainable energy consumptions. In terms of value, composting is a high nutrient content which nurtures healthy plants leading to the realisation of sustainable harvests and food security. It is the food security component which the whole world is preoccupied with at the moment. Reflecting on the role of composting in sustainable agriculture and environmental sustainability is quite noble and life-transforming. Through composting, the world is avoiding littering of surroundings with trash being transformed into opportunities. These are the opportunities that enable people to sufficiently adapt in the face of climate change and improve their livelihoods through acting small but thinking broadly, acting local but being globally relevant.
The International Composting Day is also a reminder of the significance of climate smart agriculture in addressing challenges posed by climate change in agricultural production. In this regard, through composting, communities can deliver themselves from perennial food insecurity through adapting to sustainable livelihoods and ecosystems.
In this view, composting becomes a panacea to inherent moisture stressed soils that have been affected by chemicals and artificial fertilizers for quite some time now, in order to maximise biogas production and reduce carbon emissions, especially methane.
Through composting, the world can fight climate change impacts through locking carbon stored underground as carbon sinks in order for the ecosystem to stay balanced and support biodiversity growth. People need to be reminded that, composting is a natural process of turning waste materials into humus to rejuvenate the soils for sustainable harvests to be realised. In this regard, no unwanted plant, forest and agricultural waste should be considered waste and a waste of time. Combined together, these wastes and unwanted materials help to build compost for resilience building and climate change mitigation.
Through these timely commemorations, starting as awareness campaigns in the first week of May, the world is assured that as we reach the May 29 many communities would be able to unpack the value of composting. In this regard, people are sufficiently empowered to enrich their soils, boost plant growth, reduce costs, make quality fertilizers and come up with nutrition-rich humus aimed at improving harvests and transforming lives.