Ministry stresses need to embrace organic agriculture in North East, North-West

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The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), has stressed the need to grow food crops in an environment free from artificial agrochemicals.

The ministry wants the practice to be popularised especially in the North-East and North-West.

Mr Isa Adamu, Assistant Director, Farm Input Support Services, Organic Division, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, spoke in Abuja during stakeholders’ round table.

The discussion was an annual National Organic Agriculture Business Summit (NOABS).

Adamu, who is chairperson of Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative in Nigeria, reiterated the importance of  organic agriculture, adding that millions of people are waiting in the open market to harness its benefits.

Speaking through Mrs Igoh Janet, also an Assistant Director in the Organic Division, Adamu said  “a lot of vegetables produced in the North.’’

He added that the North had a culture of fertility, as most staple crops eaten in Nigeria were grown in the North.

“We want Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) to find itself in Borno, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Kaduna and all states in northern Nigeria like what is  obtainable in the south,’’ he said.

He said that the ministry was not discriminatory of any farming techniques or practices as long as it met the ministry’s standard, and it demanded for recommendations after the meeting on the next line of action.

Prof. Victor Olowe, of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, and the President of Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria, said as a production system, organic agriculture “commands up to 100 billion dollars globally.’’

Olowe said that unfortunately, Africa as a whole was not contributing more than three per cent of the 100 billion dollars, hence Nigeria needed to key into the global trade.

According to him, Nigeria has the potential and practitioners as well, and that what was actually driving the initiative was health concerns.

“ People are now being conscious of what they consume, what they eat, and it is better to invest in quality food than to invest in treating diseases that are food related.

“If practitioners and producers in Nigeria will key into this, they stand to make more money from their produce,’’ he said.

Olowe said Nigeria also stood to gain as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would increase.

He said organic agriculture which was not new to Nigerians, is a production system that does not involve the use of agrochemicals, and that it depends largely on internal farm inputs.

“All plants growing around are botanicals, which could be processed and used to control most of these pests; there is no need to use synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides to control pests, kill weeds.

“As such, foods and produce coming from such a system is very wholesome to the body,’’ Olowe said.

He said that all that was required was to formalise organic agriculture in Nigeria and follow the standards, in order to reap the dividends.

Mr Olugbenga AdeOluwa, Country Coordinator of the EOA in Nigeria, said organic farming was becoming more popular all over the world with high demand of organic produce like ginger, rising every year.

“People are getting conscious of their health, therefore it was time for Africa to consider organic farming as an important aspect of agriculture.

“In North Africa, people are tapping into it and Togo has declared they want to be the first organic country in Africa,’’ AdeOluwa said.

He also spoke about the certification of organic produce, adding that without a strong certification, “organic agriculture can be completely muddled.’’

He said Nigeria should take the lead in organic agriculture in West Africa and that people are looking for those able to supply organic fertilizer in order to grow and eat wholesome food.

He said though organic agriculture lacked funding, it will entice youths because it was knowledge based, and will create millions of jobs for Nigeria’s teeming population and ensure GDP growth.

Abdulrazaq Baba, a participant from Federation of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria (FACAN), said Nigerians and farmers had to be sensitised on how to switch to organic agriculture.

“ It is very important because we cannot vouch for what we consume in this country which could be possible threat to our lives,’’ he said.

Mr Jethro Terkura, another participant from C and C Burford Consulting Ltd, an organic product distributor company, said Nigeria must go back to the rudiments of doing the right thing and the right practices.

This, according to him, will ensure that whatever a Nigerian gets as agricultural produce in the market is safe for consumption and at the same time good for export.(NAN)

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