By Ikenna Uwadileke
The Abundance of Hope Initiative, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) on Monday in Abuja, stressed the need for farmers to engage in organic farming crucial in ensuring food safety in the country.
The Executive Director of the organisation, Mr Taiye Sasona, said this at an advocacy programme to commemorate the 2021 World Food Safety Day and sensitise youths to understand the importance of food safety.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the World Food Safety Day celebrated every June 7, aims to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks.
The 2021 edition is with the theme `Safe Food Today for a Healthy Tomorrow’.
Sasona stressed that production and consumption of safe food had immediate and long term benefits for people, the planet and the economy.
According to him, recognising the systematic connections between the health of people, animals, planets, the environment and the economy will help us meet the needs of the future.
“Before now, most youths don’t understand what we mean by food safety, so we are now saying that the food that we consume starts from how you produce it to how it gets to the table.
“This is because organic commodities are of less chemical components.
“This tries to recognise the global burden of foodborne diseases, which affect individuals of all ages, in particular children under five and persons living in low-income countries,’’ Sasona said.
He emphasised that food safety was a shared responsibility between governments, producers and consumers.
“Everyone has a role to play from farm to table to ensure the food we consume is safe and healthy,’’ Sasona said.
He said “One of the most common illnesses that result from the consumption of contaminated food is the diarrhoeal disease which result to 550 million illnesses and causes 230,000 deaths every year according to Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
Keynote speaker at the event, Mr Opialu Opialu, said that the problem of food safety started from the generation of fertilizers and other chemicals `which we thought was a faster means of getting good agricultural yields’.
According to him, the chemical residues that enhance crop growth gave rise to food poison which is not good for the body.
“The way to achieve food safety is to go back to the kind of agriculture which the people of old practiced that is without the use of chemical fertilizers.
“The essence of food safety day is to ensure that we are protected by what we eat and this is everyone’s business because we all are involved in the process that leads to the safety and unsafety of food.
“The reason why we insist on organic agriculture is because the application of non-chemicals enhance the soil unlike chemicals that can cause degradation in the soil.
Mrs Agnes Olorunmotito, an agric expert, expressed worry that most of the foods consumed in Nigeria were chemically produced.
While giving examples of people ripening fruits such as bananas, mangos, plantains with chemicals, she cautioned that the practice was destructive to human health.
Olorunmotito pointed out that some of the benefits of organic farming included building the organic system, natural and better taste which stems from the well balanced and nourished soil.
She added that organic farming prioritises quality over quantity, conserves agricultural diversities and improves vitamins and nutrient of the body.
On her part, Patience Braimoh, also an expert, said that collaboration was needed globally, regionally and locally across sectors within the government and across borders to combat outbreaks of foodborne diseases and ensure safe foods globally.
“Safe food is critical not only to better health and food security, but also for livelihoods, economic development, trade and the international reputation of every country,’’ Braimoh said.
She emphasised that foodborne disease impedes socio-economic development by straining healthcare systems.
“A zero hunger world can only be achieved if the food consumed is safe.
“This world food safety day and everyday, let’s all decide and act to make sure food safety is everyone’s business,’’ she said. (NAN)