A university lecturer from Washington State University, United States of America (USA), Dr. Cornelius Adewale has advised Nigeria to intensify more on organic agriculture as a way of creating wealth.
Dr. Adewale stressed that Nigeria would be better off if she embarked more on organic farming so as to be competitive in the global market with her produce, argued that trying to compete with an advanced country like USA that has improved inputs and mechanization technologies in conventional farming would amount to a waste of energy and high cost of production.
He advised that the premium price commanded by organic produce which Nigeria has more potential in producing than other advanced countries should ginger Nigerian Government towards organizing organic practice training where method of land preservation and weeding would be taught to reduce production cost over conventional farming.
“For example”, said Dr Adewale that “how can Nigeria with her 1-3 tons per hectare of maize be able to compete with America’s maize where about 14-16 tons are got through more improved inputs and mechanization technologies? We cannot compete with USA in conventional farming when it comes to improved technologies?’’
He dismissed the feelings that Nigeria could not use organic farming to feed herself saying ‘’ the story is not true; we can feed our population with well-organized organic practice. Studies have shown that organic farming has a comparative yield if it was well managed than conventional ways of farming.’’
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Excel Standard Limited, Lt. Col. Abubakar Zakariya Maimalari (Rtd) said that Nigeria was still an infant in organic farming despite challenges of not being able to sell at premium price through conventional agricultural practices stressed that the country has some agricultural produce that possessed organic comparative over any other countries of the world.
Maimalari stated that ‘’ it is estimated that Nigeria has lost USD 10 billion in annual export opportunity from groundnut, palm oil, cocoa and cotton alone due to continuous decline in the production of these commodities arising from difficulty in meeting export requirement. It is good to know that most of the challenges faced by conventional agriculture in trade are easily addressed with organic principles and practices. Thus Nigeria could take the advantage of going organic with most agricultural production to access export market’’
He recommended the following for the effective development of organic agricultural export business in Nigeria.
1. Nigeria should fully explore opportunities in the African Heads of States and Governments’ Decision on Organic Farming
2. Consistent and proper enlightenment of all stakeholders of agricultural value chain in Nigeria on organic agriculture principle and practice.
3. Appropriate entrepreneurial education for all stakeholders of agric value chain.
4. Organic agriculture should be incorporated into academic curricula of tertiary institutions in Nigeria for development of technically sound workforce in the sector.
5. Agric Development Projects and other extension services arms in the country should be properly trained to be able to assist farmers over challenges of organic agricultural production.
6. Appropriate agencies of Ministry of Agriculture and Industry, Trade and investments should have a roadmap to improving access of producers to organic agriculture inputs.
7. Public and private organization with mandates for organic agriculture should have consistent programmes for training of producers on certification and export processes in organic agriculture.
8. Appropriate policies should be put in place to provide enabling environment for organic agriculture business development in the country, especially the Nigerian Organic Agriculture Bill that has been drafted since 2016, awaiting submission to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
9. The annual National Organic Agriculture Business Summit should be better promoted, planning committee be re-constituted to involve major private and public stakeholders in the country and well positioned to attract more local and foreign business opportunities in the organic agriculture sector.
10. Establishment of Organic Agriculture Platforms in all Government MDAs for policy formulation and implementation. An example can be seen in Morocco whereby a special department for Organic Agriculture is established at both national and equivalent state ministerial levels.