The Head of Agriculture Division, ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, Mr Ernest Aubee, has said that Nigeria was leading in the promotion of Organic Agriculture in the West Africa region.

Aubee said this in his closing remarks at the cocktail event on `Reporting Back Achievements of Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative’ activities in Nigeria for the years 2014-2020 and Award presentation, in Abuja.

He said Nigeria’s efforts in organic agriculture were commendable and timely, as it was coming at a time when people paid attention to what they eat.

“What Nigeria is doing will benefit not only Nigeria, as a country, but also the other 14 ECOWAS member states, and we hope member states will take a cue from your strides so far,” he said.

Aubee, also Chairman, Regional Steering Committee of EOA in West Africa, said EOA had been given a pride of place in the ECOWAS Commission, such that it was driving the organic agriculture initiative for the benefit of the region.

“We must look at how best to mainstream organic agriculture into every sector of the economy, to encourage and promote its sustainability in the region,” he said.

Aubee urged other ECOWAS member states to start work immediately on how best to ensure the mainstreaming of organic agriculture in their lives.

The event had in attendance representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Trade, Industry and Investments.

Also present were the Agriculture Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), NAFDAC and partners of the EOA Initiative in Nigeria.

Earlier, Dr Olugbenga AdeOluwa, the Nigeria Country Coordinator of EOA , reported that the Initiative had the support of the African Heads of States’ 2020 decision EX.CL/Dec.621 (XVII) on Organic Farming, and that Nigeria had been part of EOA processes since 2011.

Mr Oyewole Gbadamosi, the Project Manager, while reporting back on EOA’s achievements, said the goal was to mainstream EOA into national agricultural production systems by 2025, with a view to improving the quality of life of African citizens.

“A database of organic agriculture research on crop and livestock was produced and distributed in strategic institutional libraries in Nigeria; in bridging organic research gaps in the country.

“It also supported the production of the current revised version of Organic Agriculture Standards in Nigeria.

“The initiative has successfully supported one PhD degree programme, while the support of another one is ongoing.

“We also supported eight Masters studies and publication of seven research articles in an international journal.

“The curriculum for a full programme on Organic Agriculture Technology (OAT) in the Colleges of Agriculture has been produced.

”The material is ready to be subjected to pre-critic and national validation workshops, before absorption by the colleges, after approval by the National Board for Technical Education,” he said.

The Project Manager also noted that intensive sensitisation on the benefits of organic agriculture was being promoted by the Initiative.

“We have done a lot of intensive sensitisation on the benefits of organic agriculture with the production of a lot of information and educational materials on organic agriculture in English and different indigenous languages of the country.

”We have over 27 print publications addressing different aspects of organic agriculture.

“We have produced both print and video materials on organic livestock production (uploaded on YouTube, and to increase organic livestock production in the country.

“We have equally produced audio visual jingles on the benefits of Organic Agriculture in four languages; English, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa, to sensitise consumers in the country,” he said.

Gbadamosi said that the capacity of over 450 stakeholders was strengthened, to undertake inspection under the Participatory Guarantee System of certification and general organic agricultural issues.

“250 extension officers in the 36 states and Abuja were trained on the Basics of Organic Agriculture, Concept of Innovation Platforms and how it operates and the operationalisation of organic agriculture innovation platforms for driving organic agriculture markets in Nigeria.

“We supported the production of the first draft of the “Organic Agriculture Standards in West Africa”. This material has been submitted to the West African regional Secretariat for further inputs.

“We established an Agriculture Business Summit, an annual exhibition of organic agriculture produce, products and services in Nigeria since 2016.

” We have also begun OrganiCulture, a journal of organic agriculture business, for the promotion of organic agriculture business development in the country and national award on organic agriculture”, he added

Highlights of the event included the 2020 National Organic Agriculture Business Summit award presentation to Mrs Ebere Agozie, of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), as the Organic Advocacy and Media Personality of 2020.

Other award recipients were Mrs Udeme Udoya of Ikot Ekpene Women Food Cash Crops Multipurpose Cooperative Society, as the Organic Farmer Processor of the year, and Akwa Ibom State, as the Organic State Government of the year.

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