THE Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, Thursday, disclosed that Nigeria’s organic agricultural industry can generate N150 billion in the next five years.
This was made known by the Chief Executive Officer, NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Products Development, NEPC, Moruf Salami, at the National Organic Agriculture Business Summit, NOABS, 2021 Inaugural Local Organizing Committee, LOC, meeting held in Abuja, where Awolowo called for more attention to organic cultivation of foods as demand astronomically rises in international and local markets, and that farmers and investors should take advantage of the demand and dominate the markets.
He said: “Organic agriculture entails production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, biodiversity and people. It is also a system of production which does not use synthetic fertilizers and drugs, pesticides, herbicides, growth regulators, antibiotics, hormone stimulants and livestock feed addictive to grow crops and raise animals.
“It combines traditional knowledge, innovation, modern science, technologies and practices to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationship and a good quality of life for all involved.
“The aims of organic agriculture are all embedded in the four principles of health, ecology, fairness and care.
“The value of organic food has risen significantly due to global awareness on the essence of food safety concern and focus on organically produced crops.”
According to him, statistically, the global demand for organic food rose from $15.2 billion in 1999 to $97 billion in 2017.
He added that recently the world food summit identifies the importance of organic input technologies, farming techniques and other sustainable methods as organic farming.
Speaking on the health and economic benefits, the NEPC boss said it boosts the immune system, avoidance of food contaminants, prevention of developing food related health problems and enhances general wellness.
He further stated that, “It took over 15 years of organic products to reach $50 billion in 2008, which 10 years later in 2018 it surpassed the $100 billion mark.
“With COVID-19 changing the way we shop and eat and the next leap to $150 billion could be within the next five years. Many Nigerian agro products such as ginger, hibiscus, moringa, tiger-nut, turmeric, soya-beans, peanuts and sesame with proper certification are easily organic and this is opportunity to develop Nigeria’s organic foods sector.”
He also expressed optimism that with the evolving and dynamic agriculture space and industry Nigeria has there has been new knowledge that continuously generate innovations to boost organic food production in the country, therefore called on Nigerian agripreneurs and investors to key into the innovations and agenda of organic agriculture.
Also speaking was the National President, Federal of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria, FACAN, Dr Victor Iyama, expressed concern over rising cases of cancer related health problems across all age brackets, which he claimed that are all traceable to lack of consumption of chemical laden foods.
“If you talk about chemical fertilizers which we all used for commercial reasons because you believe that you will produce more but the truth is, is it not better to produce little and be healthy than to produce more and fill your body with poison.
“It is apt or all of us to engage in organic agriculture. People think it is far more expensive on the surface it seems but if you really sit down to do the cost benefit analysis of the two you will realise that it is the cheapest way to go.
“We should all encourage ourselves to go back to the basis and we must depend on irrigation. I have never been a supporter of GMO and I will never be. In fact, you can only use food as medicine than to use medicine as food. The only way you can make food medicine is to grow natural. I wish everybody will embrace and practice it.”
In a remark, the Chief Agric Officer, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, ARCN, Fabiyi Alice Olukemi, said, “As an agric extensionist, what you must eat is vegetables and fruits. You can see that we are eating what we do not need and that is why it seems food is not enough.
“Today, food is enough, the moment we have organic agriculture and will plead with us that we start it from our homes as individuals and use our household wastes as fertilizer.”
Meanwhile, Introducing National Organic Agriculture Business Summit, NOABS, the Country Coordinator, Ecological Organic Agriculture, EOA, Initiative Nigeria, Dr Olugbenga Adeoluwa, making a presentation of an overview about the essence of the e National Organic Agriculture Business Summit 2021 scheduled for September 5-, said Organic agriculture is becoming more popular all over the world; African Heads of States and Governments on organic farming; Nigeria is currently among the least organized countries in African organic agriculture sector; The need to improve local development of export business in organic agriculture; Capacity building of practitioners/ strategic stakeholders in the organic agricultural sector of Nigeria is needed to contribute to food security, income generation, employment, systems resilience, among others.
“Thus, the annual National Organic Agriculture Business Summit (NOABS) is one of the ways of addressing challenges of organic agriculture development in the country”, Adeoluwa said.
According to him objectives of NOABS include Job opportunities and improvement of livelihood of stakeholders; To ensure wide spread of benefits of organic agriculture to all stakeholders of organic agriculture sector in the country.
To catalyse development of organic agriculture business in Nigeria; Provision of a national platform for organic agriculture stakeholders in the country; and sustaining the drive for sustainable organic agriculture development in the country.
He added that participants expected at the Summit include Research and higher educational institutions; Hotels and supermarket operators; Organic certification bodies; Producers, consumers and business moguls in different aspects of the agricultural sector; Investors in input supply, production, processing, packaging and environment; Media practitioners; Governmental organizations related to agriculture, education, trade, health and environment; Civil rights organizations; Policy makers; and other interested stakeholders.