Experts seek right policies, research to boost organic agric farming
Experts in organic agriculture have emphasised the importance of the right policies and research on proper organic agriculture farming to improve nutrition and boost economic earnings.
They made the call in Ibadan at the first African Organic Research Conference (AFROREC), organised by Network of Organic Agriculture Researchers in Africa (NOARA), held at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.
The theme of the conference is ‘Unfavorable Climate and Food Systems in Africa: Organic and Agroecology Solutions’.
In his Keynote address, Prof. Raymond Auerbach, an Organic researcher from South Africa traced the history of ecological organic agriculture on the continent and the developments emanating from its acceptance.
He said research findings in five African countries highlight wrong agricultural policies by the African departments of agriculture and the effects on food security, nutrition and farmers as well as the populace.
Auerbach stressed the importance of the conference considering the myriad of challenges facing agriculture in developing countries, especially climate change.
According to him, political strategies and goals should be employed to support and promote organic agriculture.
“Because of Climate Change, people are realising that we need agriculture that is efficient.
“We need agriculture which produces health and is not bad for the environment,” Auerbach said.
“Also, we are responsible for harmonising the different agriculture and natural resources policies in West Africa so that the region can achieve food self-sufficiency within the shortest possible time.”
According to him, the policy emphasises the need to promote organic agriculture, not just conventional agriculture, to promote health and environmental conditions.
Dr Olugbenga AdeOluwa, the Continental Coordinator of NOARA in his overview said the conference is a contribution of NOARA to the decision of the African Heads of State and Governments on organic farming [EX.CL/Dec.621 (XVII)] as well as the demand by stakeholders of the organic and agroecological sectors of Africa, for research interventions to improve their operations.
“Despite the efforts of many stakeholders of organic agriculture and agroecology in Africa, there is still a gap of appropriate research interventions to strengthen efforts of these organizations in Africa.
“Thus, this 1st AFROREC conference is providing a platform for multi-stakeholders of organic and agroecological research in Africa to showcase their research results/innovations as solutions to stakeholders’ challenges”.
Adeoluwa added that some of the objectives of the conference were to showcase the potentials of organic agriculture and agroecology research in transforming national and regional economies, ecologies and livelihoods through income growth, climate change adaptation, food sovereignty and trade.
He said there is a need to share knowledge, information, experiences and skills among all stakeholders of organic and agroecology sectors in Africa.
“There is also a need to present scientific evidence on the capability of organic agriculture/agroecology
in contributing to healthy living and transformation of national and continental economy, enhancement of systems resilience and mitigation of climate change, among others.
“It is equally necessary to showcase organic produce and products to stimulate national, regional and international trade; linking producers to markets.
“And as well showcase and publicize benefits of organic agriculture and agroecology for consideration of policy makers, organic stakeholders and the general public”, he said.
Ernest Aubee, Chairman Regional Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA), who was honoured with the award of the 2022 Champion of Organic and Agroecology Agriculture in West Africa appealed to both physical and online participants to contribute their knowledge and expertise to the conference for the growth of Organic Agriculture in the continent.
He commended NOARA for the conference adding that organic agriculture research is an important driver of food and nutrition security on the African continent.
“Organic Research will contribute immensely to food and nutrition security, improve economic livelihoods and poverty alleviation”.
He called on the private sector to join in the drive for organic agriculture development.
Aubee also called for greater collaboration among researchers, extension workers, policy makers, farmers and consumers, if African countries are to benefit from new organic technologies.
“We must incorporate indigenous organic knowledge and practices in the design of relevant technologies for the continent.