“To catalyze development of Organic Agriculture business in Nigeria, there is need to improve the capacities of strategic stakeholders of Organic Agriculture in Nigeria”, this was the statement made by the Director/CEO of Nigerian Export Promotion Council, represented by Mr Williams Ezeagwu at the 6th annual National Organic Agriculture Business Summit held at the Conference Hall of Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Maitama, Abuja on November 2 to 4, 2021.
The summit was attended both virtually and physically by participants within and outside Nigeria, ministries, departments and agencies of government were eminently present and represented. It featured its traditional plenary presentations, colloquiums, business fora and scientific syndicates. At the opening session of the event, key officers of ministries, partner organizations appreciated the organizers and members of the audience for the opportunity to be part of the event while delivering their goodwill messages. The gbagi dance group of Kebbi State also entertained with their dance drama, the gbagi community is known mainly for farming and this was demonstrated in their dance session.
An award was presented to Col. Abubakar Maimalari for his selfless efforts in ensuring organic agriculture thrives in Nigeria. Organiculture, the dedicated journal for the summit was also launched at the event. The mainstreaming of the organic agriculture curriculum into Nigerian tertiary institutions in Nigeria which was a work in progress was taken up by the Ministry of Education, it was announced by Mr. Kehinde Osinnanike, a representative of the ministry who promised to make the curriculum a ministerial document.
Mr Elzakkar Bodewin from Louis Bolk AgroEco institute, the Netherlands during the first plenary presentation “Trends in Global Organic Trade: Opportunities for organic agriculture export development in Nigeria, listed out the product trends in the global market viz: Curcuma(turmeric), ginger, cocoa, soy, sesame. Mr. Elzakkar pointed out the demand for gluten free cassava, novel foods such as coconut water. Challenges faced include shifts in producer countries, COVID 19 market disruption, though some segments are expanding at 20% pace per annum, there are reluctance in taking African exporters serious, food security issues, logistics and reasonable cost price issues.
Speaking further, Mr. Elzakkar pointed out that the trends of unprofessionalism is also damaging the image of Nigerian exporters, lack of long term commitment, quality and consistency and that quite often, pesticides and residues make the organic produce contaminated, this necessitate the need for proper logistic, processing and packaging.
He advised that exporters need to focus on niche products such as red palm oil, indigenous, exotic vegetables which are with lesser competition, engage the national quality control (subsidy to develop farmer groups, pay for foreign certificate costs, BIOFACH presence and continue annual summits).
At the first colloquium of the event Mrs. Janet Igoh of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture informed participants of the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme at NCA in 2016, one of the various activities of the ministry, which involved the complimentary use of organic Fertilizers. The ministry took organic fertilizers to the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, she added that fertilizers are taken to the laboratory for tests, evaluation and are labeled accordingly and that quality assurance is one of the areas the ministry concentrates on.
At the fifth plenary presentation, the Country coordinator, EOA initiative, Nigeria and the convener of the yearly business summit, Dr Olugbenga AdeOluwa announced that Nigeria is yet to have a specific policy for guiding organic agriculture, the fertilizer policy in Nigeria has a section on organic agriculture but this is limited to organic fertilizers which is just a component of organic agriculture and these call for a need for the government of Nigeria to pay more attention by regulating the organic sector in the country through appropriate policies.
The event did not end without the nomination of the next hosts of the 2022 and 2023 annual organic agriculture business summit which are Ibadan and Abakaliki respectively. This was agreed by the Local Organising Committee, National Organising Committee and participants. The LOC Chairman, Mr. Rufus Durodoye expressed his gratitude to the Director of NEPC, Mr. Segun Awolowo, the NOC chairman, members of staff of NOABS secretariat, participants and every other entities who have contributed at various capacities towards the success of the 2021 summit. Dr AdeOluwa also appreciated every contributors in all areas and added that the preparation for the Ibadan summit starts immediately.