By Ikenna Uwadileke
Some Agric experts on Tuesday in Abuja, emphasised the need for farmers to engage in organic farming to ensure food safety in Nigeria.
They said this at the 2021 Food Systems Summit and Dialogue organised by the Abundance of Hope Initiative (AHI), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).
The theme of the Summit is “Building Resilience toward Sustainable Food Systems’’.
In his welcome address, Mr Taiye Sasona, the Executive Director, AHI, stressed the importance and application of organic fertilizer in crop production.
According to him, this has not only increased yield, ensure food safety but also translated to improved income for farmers.
On his part, Mr Terhemen Aondoakaa, the President Ugu Farmers Association, urged the Federal Government to subsidise organic products, make them available and inspire farmers to use them instead of chemical fertilizers.
He said “a bag of chemical fertilizer on the average costs N15,000.
“With N15,000, you have bought sickness for yourself and others who will consume the products because of the chemicals released from the fertilizers.
“Some of the sicknesses we have now were not there in the olden days. People lived longer then, but the life expectancy keeps dropping nowadays because of excess consumption of inorganic substances.
“Now in our group, we are selling organic fertilizer for less than the price of half bag of inorganic fertilizer.
“A bottle of organic fertilizer is less than N4,000 and it does the work of two bags of chemical fertilizer and it is used for all crops.
“The organic fertilizer serves both as fertilizer and pesticides.
“We are calling on the authorities to discourage the importation of those commodities we are capable of producing by ourselves.
“This is important so that farmers will be encouraged to do their work more than they are doing now,’’ he said.
Aondoakaa further urged farmers to join various farmers’ associations to get wider exposure to various markets to facilitate the sale of their produce.
According to him, the association is making efforts to pave way for farmers to sell their harvested crops outside the shores of the country.
Earlier, Mr Lambo Hosea, Team Lead-ICT, AHI, in his keynote address, blamed the rising cost of food in the country on insurgency and the effects of climate change.
Another expert, Mr Gbenga Adeleke, stressed the need for backyard farming.
Adeleke said, “the reason for high cost of food is because farmers can no longer go to farms without taking permission from insurgents and nobody wants to die hence the reason for backyard farming’’.
Mayegun Joshep expressed concern over the effects of climate change on agriculture.
According to Joseph, the climate is changing and affecting everybody, so we have to know what other people are doing and eating so that we don’t die.
He said that the production and consumption of safe foods had immediate and long term benefits for people, the planet and the economy.
One of the participants, Mrs Esther Banjo, said that the summit had exposed her to how to produce organic manure.
She vowed to put the knowledge into practice in order to boost her crops and ensure they were safe for consumption.
“I am used to buying and selling `ugwu leaves’ but with this knowledge I will start planting mine to maturity and sell them to make money,’’ Banjo said
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event which sought to find sustainable systems in food production with regards to how we grow, share and consume our foods was attended by more than 200 farmers. (NAN)