Faith Awa Maji, lafia
The National Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has highlighted the need for farmers to engage in organic farming for effective food sufficiency in Nigeria.
As part of the organization’s core mandates of making the world a market for Nigerian non-oil products to thrive, to lead the diversification of the Nigerian economy by developing and increasing non-oil exports for sustainable economic growth and inclusive, she engaged the farmers today, Thursday, in a one-day training on the national organic food export and certification program, held at the Kur-Su Hotel, Government Area Nasarawa State Akwanga Local
The program drew 187 participants from 9 local government areas across the state to determine how farmers across the state will engage in organic farming to maintain healthy soil, ecosystems, biodiversity and people respectively.
In a speech at the event, the Director and CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Barr, Olusegun Awolowo said that organic farming involves traditional knowledge, innovation, modern science, technologies and practices that will benefit the shared environment.
Rod. Awolowo said organic foods are produced and processed in certified farmland or facilities with the overall health benefits to include; improved immune system, avoidance of food contaminants, reduced risk of developing food-borne illnesses and general well-being.
“The demand value for organic food has increased significantly due to the global awareness of the essence of food safety concerns and the emphasis on organically produced crops.
“Statistically, global demand for organic food has grown from $15.2 billion in 1999 to $97 billion in 2017.”
He noted that recently the World Food Summit Plan of Action identified the importance of bio-input technologies, farming techniques and other sustainable methods as organic agriculture.
“Organic food was first introduced on a large scale in the early 1990s. It took more than 15 years for global sales of organic products to reach $50 billion in 2008. Ten years (2018) more later they passed the $100 billion mark.”
The Director and CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council pointed out that with COVID-19 changing the way people around the world buy and eat, the next leap will be $150 billion could be in the next 5 years, saying that many Nigerian agricultural products such as ginger, hibiscus, moringa, nutsedge, turmeric, soybeans, peanuts and sesame seeds, among others, so this is an opportunity to develop the organic food sector in Nigeria.
The representative of the National Chairman of the Association of United Farm Product, Traders and Livestock Dealers of Nigeria, Mr. V. David Ayeti, who is the National Secretary of the Association, said that being the farmers association, he found out that most farmers produce agricultural products in Nigeria, the products are not of exportable quality, hence the need for aggressive outreach with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) assisting them with resources.
“Basically, the program was organized in partnership with us, we are an association of farmers; and we are discovering that most of the products produced by our farmers today are not of exportable quality. So we went to training. We started by ourselves, we organized organic trainings for our farmers across the country. We discovered that the resources were not sufficient and we decided to ask NNPC to improve the relationship”.
Mr. David also said that Nasarawa State is not left behind hence the need for training to sensitize farmers to go organic for sustainable economy and export purposes.
Earlier in his welcome speech, the Trade Adviser/Head of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) at Makurdi Export Assistance Office, Mr. Anani Ben Egon said that the program is designed in the main purpose of helping smallholder farmers, producers and exporters. improve their farming practices to achieve organic certification under globally recognized food safety programs by complying with organic farming practices and standards.
Mr. Anani Ben noted that the event was the result of a joint request by the Association of United Farm Products Traders and Livestock Dealers of Nigeria, National Sesame Seed Association of Nigeria and Soya Beans Association of Nigeria, Benue State Chapters to the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Makurdi Export Assistance Bureau for its support in addressing some aspects of the challenges facing Nigerian agricultural exports in Benue and Nasarawa States, including ;
“The main request was for an intervention to build the capacity of farmers in Benue and Nasarawa States on organic farming practices and certification.”
He said the two states are major producers of Nigeria’s main agricultural export commodities, sesame seeds, shea butter, yams also in the group producing fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables .
“In Nigeria, the awareness of organic farming is still very low, hence the need to sensitize the government and put in place a policy framework for the certification of organic farms,” Ben added.
Trade Adviser/Head of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Makurdi Export Assistance Office, Mr. Anani Ben Egon, expressed his sadness at how farmers find themselves in an economy where there are so many crops on the farm but where processing and market demand are lacking. , added that there is a need to improve farmers’ access to national and international markets through interventions such as agricultural insurance and organic certification.
“There will be renewed optimism and expansion of farms leading to poverty reduction and improved family choice for smallholders,” he said.
He assured the farmers present at the event for continued collaboration with stakeholders to improve non-oil export performance.
Some participants appreciated the organizers of the program and promised to improve the knowledge gained for sufficient food security in Nasarawa State and the country in general.
Organic farming is also a production system that does not use synthetic fertilizers, drugs, pesticides, herbicides, growth regulators, antibiotics, hormonal stimulants, livestock feed additives to grow crops and raise animals.