Dr Olugbenga AdeOluwa, the Country Coordinator of Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative in Nigeria says no country in Africa is among the ten world largest area of organic land.
AdeOluwa said this during his online presentation on the Principles of Organic Agriculture practices organised by Journalists Go Organic Movement.
Journalists Go Organic is a Pan African initiative that brings journalists together with organic agriculture and environment experts on how to have a healthy nation and a healthy environment.
He said that low level of technical know-how among stakeholders and policy makers have been part of the major limitations to the development of the organic agriculture sector in Africa.
“Global organic sector was valued at 130 billion US dollars as at 2019, with 72.3 million hectares managed by over 3.1 million producers and yet Africa is still found wanting’’.
AdeOluwa, an Associate Professor in the Department of Soil Resources Management, University of Ibadan said organic agriculture contributes a lot to the health of the world.
“The Principles of Health, Ecology, Fairness, and Care are the roots from which organic agriculture grows and develops.
“Ensuring healthy living of both the living and non-living components of the ecosystem is a MUST in organic agriculture.
“This is what you don’t get from conventional agriculture, where ‘you rob Peter to pay Paul’ like the indiscriminate use of harmful agrochemicals without concern for its negative impact on the health of those in the value chain’’.
According to him, `organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which enhances agro-ecosystem health, utilizing both traditional and scientific knowledge.
“It contributes to agro-ecosystem balance or sustenance; protecting native entities, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity.
“It emphasises the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account the fact that regional conditions require locally adapted systems.
“This is accomplished by using, where possible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfill any specific function within the system’’.
He added that organic production method thus plays a dual societal role: on one hand it provides for a specific market responding to a consumer demand for organic products, and on the other hand delivers public goods contributing to the protection of the environment and animal welfare, as well as to rural development.
He, however, said that journalists need a proper understanding of organic agriculture principles in order to properly address issues in the sector.
“Truly, journalists have great roles to play in taking Nigeria to a higher level and in exploring the several opportunities for mankind within the organic agriculture system.
“A major question is how far can journalists go in proper advocacy for organic agriculture when they don’t have good understanding of the sector?
“So, it is vital that journalists, as the society’s watch dogs and indeed all stakeholders, should be trained and retrained in organic agriculture practices for the health of the world and its inhabitats.
This is one of the reasons for increasing development of organic agriculture all over the world; increasing consumer awareness of the benefits of organic agriculture.
Health considerations, especially, is increasing the demand for organic produce and products.
Mrs Ebere Agozie, a Journalist with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and Founder, ‘Journalists Go Organic’ a Pan African Initiative said the project was born out of the desire to help curb strange sicknesses ravaging the world today.
“This project is to build the capacity of journalists across the African continent not only in the promotion of, and sustenance of, organic agriculture, but in getting them to become organic farmers.
“The unique innovation is to work with journalists who are the watch dogs of the society to take the words and benefits of organic agriculture to every nook and cranny of the country.
“Since we are what we eat, we can no longer leave the business of our health and that of our environment to farmers alone.
“Nigeria must be number one in the drive for organic agriculture in Africa and among the best ten in the world; therefore, we must sit up and work as a team”.