28 March 2019

Nigeria: Govt, Scientists, Agro-Preneurs Harp On Organic Agric, Products

Nigerian scientists, farmers and entrepreneurs have intensified efforts to rev up organic food, beverage as well as product development and production not only through advocacy, but also active investment and practical sustainable production.

A report emanating from Zion Market Research has indicated that revenue from organic foods and beverages would rise from $125.76 billion in 2017 to $323.09 billion by 2024, presenting a huge opportunity for Nigerians to play big in the market.

Dr Olugbenga Adeoluwa, the National Project Coordinator of the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative (EOAI) in Nigeria, disclosed to The Guardian that Nigeria, at the moment, cultivates about 55,000 hectares of organic farmland.

The University of Ibadan lecturer said technologies, innovations and knowledge-based agriculture had made it easier for countries around the world to produce food massively using the organic techniques.

The health benefits, he added, are numerous, with additional benefit of immunity boosting, longevity and avoidance of economic burden of diseases and mortalities associated with synthetic foods, agro-chemicals and other products.

Olusola Olunowo, Managing Director of Agropark, a farm-to-table organic farm in Abeokuta, Ogun State, said organic agriculture is not only cheaper, but also sustainably profitable and more beneficial for both farmers and consumers, health-wise.

Synthetic chemical deposits, vet drug residues, inhalation and consumption of insecticides, pesticides and fertilizer derivatives indirectly cause more harms to health and economies of the people around the world more than imagined.

To help contribute to a more human and eco-friendly agriculture, the farm produces/processes 60,000 broilers using no chemical anti-biotics, vaccines or growth enhancer.

During a visit to the farm, Brooding Supervisor at the poultry unit of the farm, Miss Elizabeth Amigun, disclosed to the Guardian that ginger, onions, garlic and turmeric extracts are used as anti-biotics; pawpaw, basil and bitter leaves extracts are used for anti-coccidiosis, deworming and Christmas melons are soaked for seven days and used for New Castles disease vaccine.

Amigun added that growth enhancer extracts are sourced from ripe banana and molasses; while organic multivitamins are extracted from cucumbers, watermelons, oranges, carrots, garden eggs and pine apples.

With the use of those organic extracts, no outbreak of poultry diseases had been recorded on the farm, and the mortality rate is usually less than three per cent.

Rabbits, cane rats and pigs are equally produced organically, while the medicinal herbs are produced on the farm.

Part of the reasons, Olunowo said, was that more people are were becoming conscious of the processes of food they consume and documentation, availability and disclosure of those processes are germane to a healthy world.

Also, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, disclosed the Federal Government's plan to boost organic food production by stopping chemical fertilizer and agro-chemicals as soon as possible.

He said this on Sunday while inspecting an organic banana plantation by Contec Global Agro Limited, in Kwali.

Ogbeh also expressed concerns about the increasing liver and kidney morbidity rates among young people, explaining that the objective was to produce healthier foods.

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