Experts and stakeholders in agriculture have urged African leaders to support organic agriculture with the right policies and financing to tackle environmental degradation and ultimately achieve optimum food production.
The experts and stakeholders, drawn from the industry and the academia in different parts of the continent, made the call during the workshop on the multiplier mapping for acquisition and knowledge dissemination within the KCOA project.
The workshop was organized by the Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria (NOAN) in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The purpose of the workshop was to serve as a build-up multiplier project that would be a game changer for the participants to have the ability to translate the training to what local farmers could key into.
Knowledge Centre for Organic Agriculture (KCOA), which aims at closing the knowledge gap in organic agriculture in Africa, is an innovative concept for the promotion of organic farming. Regional Knowledge Hubs have been implemented jointly within the framework with actors from West, East, North and Southern Africa. The West Africa pole is installed in Senegal.
According to Obi, the problems of food shortage and environmental degradation will be addressed with organic agriculture, saying if the African leaders have decided that organic agriculture should lead the way, they should come out boldly and support the organic agriculture practices both in policies and economics.
Dr. Obi said:”The greatest problem that Africa has is its ability to effectively utilize the available resources. So, this project will collate those resources and make the resources available. Once those resources are made available, we will make use of them. Then, the problems of food shortage and environmental degradation will be solved. The problems are tied together, because the use of inorganic materials to produce and process our crops is affecting our environment.
“So, the more we are able to transit to the environmental friendly system crop production and agriculture, the better for us. So, this particular system would gradually transit to environmentally friendly practice for organic agriculture.
“Organic agriculture came to Africa through the decision of the African Union (AU) President. They decided that organic agriculture is the main thing in Africa, because most of the environments in Africa are very sensitive. Africa is dominated by sub-sahara areas where the soil is weak, the environment is very sensitive and it has been affected with climate change.
“The major solution to address the matter is organic agriculture. Mainly, organic agriculture is practising agriculture in a very friendly and conducive way without using extraneous materials that will make the environment deteriorate.
“Some people will say that the environment is acting back by bringing things like coronavirus for us.
But once we are able to practice organic agriculture in a harmonious way where plants and animals, humans and environment are treated harmoniously, the world would be very peaceful. And all these problems around would be reduced.
“If Africa leaders have decided that organic agriculture should lead the way, they should come out boldly and support the organic agriculture practices both in policies and economics. Economics means financial support, because the policy is what will drive the practice and economics is what will boost it. Once they gve these boosts, the continent will be better for it”.
On his part, the President of NOAN , Prof. Victor Olowe lamented that governments are not doing enough to encourage organic agriculture.
Prof. Olowe said:”Organic agriculture takes good care of the health of the entire system. The government has not done enough in organic agriculture. But it is difficult for governments to satisfy every facet of within the agriculture sector. We will keep partnering with the government as an association”.
On his part, the Project Manager of KCOA-FENAB, Mouhamed SEEK, said knowledge hubs were being introduced as an innovative strategy for promoting organic agriculture with actors in the regions of Africa.
He disclosed that there are three types of multipliers in the project which are all about disseminating knowledge about organic agriculture.
Speaking on the digital platform presented at the workshop, SEEK said:”All information and knowledge about organic agriculture and the needs of each multiplier are on the digital platform. It will be hosted on the Internet and will be available for all Africans to access information especially about traditional and scientific knowledge that exists in Africa.
“This knowledge exists in different places but not collated. So, we collate processes and harmonize and validate them. So, the project will give those traditional knowledge scientific backing so that it will be empirical. It will bring everything together about the value chain and all-round information on organic agriculture”.
Also, Nandiaye Ndiaye, who is the FENAB platform representing West Africa KCOA said the project which targets multipliers will bridge the knowledge gap in organic agriculture.