World Environment Day: ECOMAWDI Shines Light on Organic Agriculture

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In celebration of World Environment Day with the theme “Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought Resilience,” the Environmental Conflict Mediation and Women Development Initiative (ECOMAWDI) in partnership with Women Environmental Programme hosted a significant awareness programme highlighting the benefits of organic agriculture production and consumption.

Mrs. Ijeoma Ladele, Executive Director of ECOMAWDI, opened the event by emphasising the importance of land restoration in combating climate change and ensuring food security. She discussed various land restoration techniques and their benefits for biodiversity, water cycles, and ecosystem services.

Mrs. Ladele underscored the dual focus of the event: promoting organic agriculture and enhancing access to organic markets. “Land restoration calls us to revive the earth’s landscapes, replenishing our soils, forests, and wetlands, and creating thriving habitats for all living creatures. By restoring our land, we are nurturing nature and bolstering our food security and livelihoods,” she stated.

In his keynote address, Prof. Olugbenga O. AdeOluwa, Coordinator of the Organic and Agroecology Initiative in Nigeria, represented by Dr AyanfeOluwa, enlisted the various benefits of organic agriculture production and consumption. He highlighted that World Environment Day’s theme this year is “Land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience.”

Prof. AdeOluwa explained that land restoration is the process of rehabilitating degraded land and improving its productivity. He listed various techniques used in land restoration such as reforestation, soil conservation, and wetland restoration. He emphasized the numerous benefits of land restoration, which include improved water cycles, enhanced ecosystem services, and climate change mitigation.

He described organic agriculture as a lifestyle that prioritizes the health of the environment and its inhabitants. By avoiding synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, organic farming promotes a healthier environment and produces nutritious food. He highlighted some of the benefits of organic agriculture including improved soil health, increased nutritional value of produce, and reduced exposure to harmful chemicals.

In his presentation, Dr. Olugboyega Oyeranti from the University of Ibadan, quoting the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, defined food security as ensuring that all people have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food at all times. He also cited IFAOM’s four principles of organic farming: health, ecology, fairness, and care for future generations.

During his presentation, Dr. Stephen A. Faleti of the Institute for Peace & Strategic Studies at the University of Ibadan said food security exists when all people have access to enough safe, nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and preferences. This includes four key aspects: availability, accessibility, utilization, and stability of food sources. It’s not just about food production and presence, but also the social, economic, and political factors influencing people’s ability to obtain and use food.

Dr. Faleti further highlighted several challenges affecting agricultural land availability, including urbanization, climate change, and land degradation caused by human actions like soil erosion. To address these issues and promote food security, Dr. Faleti suggests implementing land-use planning and zoning regulations, supporting small-scale farmers and local food systems, and encouraging sustainable agricultural practices.

While highlighting the university’s commitment to organic food options, Dr. Aderonke Ajav, Director of UI Health Services said, “University Health Services will continue to advocate for organic food intake because of its immense health benefits,” she stated. “We have established dedicated markets on campus where organic produce can be purchased at affordable prices.”

The technical advisor for the event, Professor Adams Onuka, encouraged Nigerians to embrace organic farming methods. “Organic agriculture is free from chemical fertilizers and pesticides used in mass production,” he explained. “By choosing organic practices, we can protect the environment and ensure a healthier food supply.”

Mrs. Oluwatoyin Ologundudu, a programme officer with the Network of Organic Agriculture Researchers, presented on “Organic Agriculture: A Climate Smart Agriculture System.” She highlighted numerous benefits of organic farming, including reduced environmental impact, improved health, enhanced soil fertility, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity support.

Also, Dr. B. O. Oyelami of the Innovation Lab for Policy Leadership in Agriculture and Food Security (PiLAF), University of Ibadan, noted that organic production involves cultivating crops and raising livestock without synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, or GMOs. He emphasized the need for government support and policies like financial incentives, technical assistance, and research funding to promote organic farming. Additionally, workshops, school programmes, community demonstrations, subsidies, and low-interest loans are crucial. He urged farmers to assess their practices, build capacity through education, and develop a detailed transition plan.

Dr. Oyediran Olusegun Oyebola, Principal Investigator for Integrated and Circular Technologies for Sustainable City Region Food Systems in Africa (INCiTiS-FOOD), University of Ibadan, acknowledged the challenges faced by organic farmers. These include competition for land use, potential nutrient loss during transportation, and the affordability of organic fertilizers compared to conventional options.

The programme recognized the challenges like profitability and competition from conventional farmers. Participants discussed the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in addressing these issues through educational campaigns, advocacy, and market development.

This initiative presents a promising future for organic agriculture. By creating a supportive environment for organic production and promoting consumer interest, stakeholders can ensure a thriving organic sector that benefits the environment, human health, and the local economy.

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