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Each year, around 7 million hectares of forests are cut down to make space for agriculture or to be turned into products for our use (“How”). The lands that had once housed a diverse range of life and towering trees are now barren. Deforestation is one of the leading problems in our environment that needs to be solved. Trees greatly benefit the world by filtering out the growing amounts of carbon in the air, supporting wildlife, reducing water pollution through breaking runoff, and so much more (“Top”).
It is the responsibility of human beings to try and solve this problem— as they were where it originated from. One of the main reasons behind deforestation is the need to clear land. Earth is not getting any bigger, but the human population sure is. There is an increasing number of mouths to feed. Land cultivation is the second greatest reason behind global deforestation (“How”). Many farmers clear out large portions of the forests to expand farms in hopes of meeting the growing demand for food.
Environments are being damaged as trees are cut down. A solution to this problem is biointensive agriculture. It is a farming method that combines many techniques from ancient civilizations—such as the Mayans, Greeks, and Chinese— to create an efficient, land conservative, and eco-friendly way to farm (“From”). Biointensive agriculture is way to reduce deforestation; it is already used in Kenya, small farms across the US, and there are organizations promoting and teaching it.
A prominent example of biointensive agriculture is the practice of it in Kenya.
Research has shown that Kenya’s economy strongly depends on agriculture, which accounts for around 70% of the workforce there (“Kenya”). Due to that, there will be a large demand for land. Many farmers have begun to learn the biointensive method to support themselves. One of these places in Kenya is Kitale— where a training program has recently been launched (“Biointensive”). According to an article by Oakland Institute, the farmers that started practicing the method soon experienced, “significant yield increases… improved soil fertility… more nutritious crops” (“Biointensive”). They have turned to the biointensive method because they saw it as a better alternative. Large scale use of it can reduce the expansion of agricultural land into forests. The biointensive method can produce large amounts of crops and save money—something that many farmers cut down trees and expand land for. A Kenyan farmer once wrote a letter after learning the biointensive method, saying, “We didn’t know that farming can be done without spending so much money. We always thought that without money we cannot do farming” (“Mini”). The letter explains how biointensive farming can help farmers save cash. Indirectly, this connects the biointensive method with reducing deforestation. Through biointensive agriculture, farmers could still earn that amount of money and save more without having to expand land. The farmers in Kenya already effectively use this sort of farming technique to save space and therefore lessen deforestation in a profitable way.
Kenya is not the only place that takes advantage of this technique. Small farms across the US are following the suit. In Mendocino County, California, there are many biointensive farmers— like Benedict and Jonnes. According to an article, they use this technique because “it produces far greater yields than conventional agriculture while using far less land” (“Small”). This just points to how biointensive farming is land conservative but also profitable. An experienced farmer further supports this point by saying, “When you miniaturize agriculture, you don’t need as much land” (“Small”). He explains how this new technique makes agriculture a less land consuming practice. This easily strengthens the fact that biointensive agriculture is land conservative. When the farmers are using the method, they use 50 to 75 percent less land for the same or greater yields (“Small”). This means that there is no need for expansion if farmers start farming the biointensive way. At most, they can even double the amount of crops they plant. In fact, there are about 100 others who are also practicing this technique in Mendocino County (“Small”). Another article explains how in the US, the demand for more land to grow crops with is increasing due to the increasing population (“Mini”). It speaks of how many small farmers are already starting to take advantage of biointensive agriculture—as they do not need the extra land to generate more produce (“Mini”). From the evidence shown above, the United States is starting to accept the biointensive method for its many advantages, and will therefore start to benefit the environment.
There are many organizations around the world that work to educate and promote the biointensive technique. Among them, one of the most noteworthy is Ecology Action. They work hard to spread the method all around the globe. They host meetings to discuss biointensive agriculture and different ways it can be effectively used. An article states that in 2015, “Africans from Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Swaziland came together… to share their knowledge and experiences with biologically intensive farming” (“Ecology”). They are trying to find better ways to utilize the technique through discussion. Not only that, but they also dedicate their resources into research—in order to better refine the craft. According to an article, the biointensive method they teach combines “47 years of experience, research and development” and “focuses on growing a complete diet on as little land as possible” (“The”). They have been teaching small farmers this way of agriculture in 150 different countries in the world (“The”). If they spread the method effectively, then large amounts of land would be conserved and many forests saved.
Some people say that biointensive agriculture will not help deforestation. There are so many other roots to the problem— such as the need for fuelwood or construction material. Reducing the amount of land needed for agriculture will not change really anything. That is a common misconception. What many may not know is that land cultivation takes up a lot of forest area. According to a report from a non-profit organization in Washington, 71% of the tropical deforestation that has occurred in a twelve year period was to make space for agriculture (“Slavikova”). Others may also argue that the biointensive way requires too much effort, especially in comparison to normal farming. This makes it a less desirable method to farmers. An experienced biointensive farmer named Jeavons says otherwise. He states, “it’s really more skill-based than labor-based—you work smarter, not harder” (“Small”). This all further supports the fact that the method is an effective solution towards deforestation.
Biointensive agriculture could be a major step towards solving the issue of deforestation. Though it is not a common technique in the farming industry, it is already practiced successfully in many places across Kenya and small farms situated in the US. Moreover, an organization known as Ecology Action researches of it and also encourages widespread use. With the rapid destruction of forests, we will soon find ourselves plummeting into a ruined world. That outcome is not inevitable; with the large-scale practice of biointensive agriculture, the future of our world will no longer be as dark.
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