The COVID -19 pandemic has unearthed many questions. How will 2020 play out? Has the world changed forever as we know it? Will we get through this pandemic sanely? What will the end result be and what will the death tally be before we get our freedom of movement back? Will we ever be able to explore, travel and see so much of the world as we did before COVID-19 struck?

In my opinion, the most important questions are, “Will humanity learn anything from this, or will we try to eliminate the past, and not reflect on it once everything has passed?” Chances are that history will repeat itself again and again in the future. Most importantly, “What can we learn and what can we change to improve our current situation?” and “Can we work with Mother Nature rather than against her?” Fact is, nature will always win!

The other nagging questions are: Have our modern systems destroyed our ability to function with nature? As a human race we assume that we are the pinnacle of evolution, or from a Christian point of view, we were created to be the custodians of the land. Have we failed in this task? The interesting thing is that Buddhists see the destruction of the nature as thé original sin. Do we as humans fit this description and constantly sin against the creation, or Mother Nature, depending on your religious beliefs? The ultimate question is, Can we change or will greed overwhelm us once again?

We do not realise how much we sacrifice for humanity’s greed and convenience. Not only have we sacrificed our freedom long before the various COVID-19 lockdowns occurred but also sacrificed our health long before COVID-19 struck. The younger generation in the US has a shorter lifespan than the previous generations. We naïvely believe that politicians care about the next generation. Their only goal is to be re-elected. No political party has the courage to do what is really necessary. They all play popularity politics.

We have also sacrificed our ability to think long before COVID-19 was even on the horizon – everything we wanted was for our convenience and ease of use, regardless of what it did to our wellbeing or the wellbeing of others.

What now?

Can we now already reflect of what went wrong before COVID-19 struck?

On 20 February 2020 Dr. J Blignaut wrote an article in Daily Maverick titled Meat, messiness and management: “Our planet is a disaster waiting to happen. We know that our systems are broken, be it in politics, in our policies or in our economy. This is a time to reflect and see how we can do it better than in the past, how we can improve and regenerate. A time to be inclusive in our economy regardless of race, religious belief or background. A time where the poorest of the poor have the same opportunity as the richest of the rich.

We were warned numerous times that if a pandemic strikes, Africa would be hardest hit – so we are playing Russian Roulette with our future, waiting for the everything to crash, not necessarily as a pandemic, but the economy as a whole. The banks were bailed out in 2008 already, but has anything changed? How many more farmers must go bankrupt until we notice that our agricultural system is broken and dysfunctional, in contradiction with various TV programs that show industrial farms as successful?

Can we reflect on how to change and get our house in order again? First on a personal level, then in the family, the community, the country and finally the world. How will my actions affect me, my environment, my partner, my family my community the country and the world? Do we ever take our thought process that far or are we all just narcissists where everything is all about our wealth and wellbeing, without any thought spared for anything or anyone else?

What now?

Have we lost the ability to work with nature? With all the various lockdowns, the decreased movement of people and transportation, we hear daily how the CO2 levels are dropping. Is agriculture really the big pollutant that all the vegans, and various celebrities make it out to be? Does it justify our use of all our chemical inputs in the various agricultural systems?
Probably not, but remember, you are what you eat. Now in the time where everybody has time to reflect on what they have done to create this mess. On how we can improve and work with Mother Nature rather than against her, regardless of profession. The agriculture sector will have to reflect on their actions and the role they play in harming nature.

What was?

How often do you see nostalgic memes where kids play outside and then it says “Share if you remember playing in the mud” or whatever. The question is, who changed this?

We were led to believe that everything dirty, was wrong.

How has advertising affected us?

Our whole mindset is reductive and focused on how to kill everything that we don’t want.
Bacteria, other microscopic organism, ants, insects, be it a pest or beneficial. The problem is that we don’t want to see them as beneficial and useful.
We are destroying our world with chemicals. We have to change our thought process to where we would rather regenerate the biological services that nature provides for free, instead of trying to reduce it to something that we understand. We can never comprehend the unforeseen consequences of our actions. How often have our actions been proven to be negative rather than beneficial to the natural process?

We must reflect on our food production services – what will happen if, due to the various lockdowns, we cannot produce mangos or strawberries or any other fruit for that matter, throughout the year? Our food system has evolved into such a logistical food web that it is astounding how we have developed a system so that Europe can get any exotic fruit throughout the year, and this without blemishes. The question is, What has the impact on the environment been? Can we even put a price to the biological services that have been destroyed by conventional agriculture to achieve this goal? South Africa loses 13 tons of topsoil per hectare on its agricultural land per year. This is not sustainable, and it is no wonder that so many farmers are on the brink of bankruptcy – They are wasting or disregarding all their biological services that had been provided for free by Mother Nature, services that would reduce their input costs, and all this just in the name of science and greed.

Biology trumps Chemistry

Soil health, the digestive system, and organic waste disposal systems are all biological, but we have tried to convert all three systems to a chemical system and are only now looking at how we can enhance our biological systems again to function optimally.

If we take the various systems that have evolved in nature, where plants and animals protect themselves from pathogens, we realise that we have ignored the role micro-organisms play in the health of all living creatures. We must use management systems where we enhance these biological systems.

The 5 principles of soil health have been described before, all these principles are designed to enhance the microbial life in the soil. The healthier your soil, the more drought resilient it becomes and the lower your input costs will become. How many farmers are already planting test plots, where they are reducing the inorganic fertiliser amounts? The plants also become more resilient against pests. We must get our predator prey relationship in order again, we cannot just kill everything, and think we will improve our end-product.
There is enough knowledge and information available regarding cover crops and that certain crops, feed various microorganisms that make certain minerals and elements more bio-available to the next crop. Thus resulting in a more nutrient dense cash crops, which will benefit both the animal production and human health.
We know that our food is not as nutrient dense as it used to be – we also know that with the correct application of the five principles of soil health, we can get more nutrient dense food again.

Can we comprehend this – or must nature throw us another curveball, until we finally realise that we might win a battle, but we will never win the war.