Organic Agriculture Stakeholders Converges in Akwa Ibom
The 2020 edition of the annual National Organic Agriculture Business Summit was successfully held at Ibom Hall, Uyo, Akwa Ibom and had in attendance both virtual and physical participants The event was phenomenal and impactful and the precautionary measures against the COVID 19 pandemic was not ruled out. It included various activities such as plenary presentations, business fora, colloquium, and of course a cultural dance group welcomed all with their unique melody and dance moves.
The event was attended by stakeholders in various area of organic agriculture , presenters both virtual and physical were Prof. Raymond Auerbach, University of West Cape Town South Africa, Dr. karfa Diallo, Enda Pronat, Senegal, Niemattalah Elamin, UNCTAD, Switzerland, Dr. Benoit Gnonlonfin, FOA, United Nations, Venancia Wambua, EOA Initiative in Africa, Dr. Edna Akpan, Akwa Ibom State University, Uyo, Ms. Louise Luttikholt, IFOAM Organic International, Bonn, Mr Ernest Aubee, ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, Chief Daniel Asuquo, Member, Federal House of Assembly, Abuja.
Notable guests of honour included the Honourable Commissioner of Agriculture, represented by Dr. Uyobong Uko, the State Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Dr. AdeOluwa O.O, Country Coordinator, EOA Initiative, Nigeria, Chairmen, National Steering Committee, North, Southwest and South Eastern Region, Prince Peter Bakare, Alh. Luqman Oladapo and Prof. Nkiru T. Meludu respectively, representatives of the Project Implementing Partners were equally represented.
The President of Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria, Prof. V.I.O. Olowe, who was inevitably absent physically joined in virtually, in his opening remarks, he welcomed participants on behalf of the Association and wished them a successful outing. Dr. Uyobong Uko, the State Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in his goodwill message stated that he is a lover of agriculture and organic agriculture, there is need for a paradigm shift from the subsistent level to the commercial and exportation level, with the inclusion of labeling, branding and premium price placement.
Dr. AdeOluwa, the Country Coordinator, EOA Initiative welcomed all participants, he informed that the focus of the EOA is to mainstream organic agriculture into the national system, he made mention of the deceased stakeholders who were Mr. Adeolu Adewoyin and Jordan Gama, he added that their efforts in organic agriculture movement will be greatly remembered.
This year’s annual summit covered major issues on organic agriculture with one or two lessons learnt through the strata of program lined up for each day. At the colloquium session, Ms Niematallah during her virtual presentation pointed out UNCTAD approach to Voluntary Sustainability Standard (VSS) , which among others include land use planning, the environmental impacts of production, community relations, she hinted that developing countries experience capacity gaps in capturing the potentials of VSS to catalyse sustainable development through trade. She added that UNCTAD has developed an approach to help stakeholders, especially smallholder producers and MSMEs in producing countries, create a policy environment capable of maximizing the benefits of VSS adoption.
Mr. Oyewole Gbadamosi, the Project Manager, EOA Initiative in Nigeria took participants through export requirements for organic agricultural commodities. He stated that there are rules and agreement guiding movements of produce for exports the WTO-SPS set standards for food security, animal health and also protect countries from damage caused by entry, establishment or spread of pests, and from risks arising from additives, contaminants etc.
Dr Edna Akpan, a member of the Association and a presenter at the event stated that bringing women and young people into organic agriculture opens up new horizon and that it is important to include women, youths and the vulnerable as they have a lot to offer in terms of organic agriculture.
The communiqué of urged all appreciate the efforts of the umbrella body for Organic Agriculture, Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria and all private stakeholders in the sector should be encouraged to join the Organic Association in order to ensure proper grassroots development and appropriate coordination of the sector.
The breakout sessions of the event, grouped into four, the curriculum development group gathered to discuss on the modalities for the incorporation of the curriculum of organic agriculture into the 2021/2022 academic year in colleges of agriculture across Nigeria the meeting had in attendance Mr. Nsan Nsan Tiku, a representative of National Board of Technical Education. The business and trade forum discussed issues of export and trade in organic produce, participants were informed that in export business , the international buyers bid for the best of the produce, organic produce are on high demands in international markets , and that it is advisable that farmers produce for both domestic and export purpose to enable a favourable return on investment (ROI), organic preservation methods, factors that affect exports and trade of organic produce. At the farmers forum, the challenges faced by farmers in areas of funding, inputs, sales and produce that are demand driven were discussed and the way forward were discussed.
Awards were presented to the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mrs. Udeme Udonya, Mrs. Ebere Agozie for the governor of the year, organic farmer of the year and media personality of the year respectively. The next annual summit was scheduled to hold in Abuja (2021) and Oyo State (2022).