M is for Mulching

M is for Mulching

Date: 1 October 2014

Mulching involves covering the soil with a layer of plant material such as leaves, grass clippings, wood chips and even cardboard. It has a number of benefits including:

  • Helping to prevent soil erosion – by protecting it from the action of wind and rain
  • Increasing soil fertility
  • Shading the soil and reduces water loss through evaporation
  • Helping to keep down the weeds
  • Reducing soil compaction.

Mulching is a key technique in agroecology and is widely used by small-scale farmers around the world. In dry parts of Kenya, mulching can slightly increase the length of the growing season. In West Africa, it was found that banana yields on mulched plots were up to four times higher than crops grown without mulch. Mulched plots can also be more productive than organically fertilized plots, although combining the two produces the highest yields.

Photo: School children learn how to mulch. Credit: Niall McNulty

The A-Z of Food Sovereignty in Africa shows the positive alternatives to corporate-led agriculture. A new letter was posted each day in the lead up to World Food Day arrived on 16 October 2014.

Africa’s small-scale food producers already know how to produce enough food sustainably to feed themselves but the political and economic rules which govern the food system are set against them. These rules are written by and for multinational companies and political elites, in support of a global food system that benefits them rather than the millions of smallholders and family farmers who produce the food and get little in return.