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Food security: Stakeholders advocate for bio-organic agricultural practices to mitigate ecosystem challenges

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Stakeholders have emphasized the necessity of implementing bio-organic agricultural practices in order to reduce the use of chemicals, prevent pests and diseases to increase food security, preserve the health of people, animals, and plants, and maintain soil fertility due to its inherent qualities.

 

This appeal was made at the “Bio-Organic Agricultural Innovation: A Roadmap to National Food Bio-Security, Ecosystem Restoration, and Economic Stability” workshop, which was hosted by MOUAU College of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, CNCREM, in association with Resol Switzerland.

 

The Vice-Chancellor, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Prof. Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe, while declaring the workshop open, said the workshop would address the challenges inherent in the chains of food production in the country.

 

The Vice-Chancellor, represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, Prof. Udo Herbert said: “The University’s relentless efforts in collaborations, innovative researches and the imparting knowledge and relevant skills to students are geared towards enhancing food security for national development. He encouraged farmers to switch to a bioorganic farming system in order to eradicate the problems caused by pests, diseases, and chemicals that affect people, animals, and plants, as well as to enhance harvest quality and restore the agro-ecosystem.”

 

In his presentation, the keynote speaker and the head of Research and Development, Resol Switzerland, Mr. Petrus Jakobus Snyman pointed out that bio-organic agriculture is rooted in the belief that a healthy ecosystem is a foundation of healthy plants, livestock, and human beings.

 

He stated that bio organic agriculture, which is an internationally recognized system of agricultural production by farmers, does not only mitigate the problems associated with synthetic fertilizers but also maximize long-term soil fertility.

 

Snyman said: “The practice that uses organic inputs and involves inexpensive processes yields healthy and tasty food.”

 

Mr. Petrus, sought for integration of organic materials, irrigation, planting of trees and cover crops, climate controlled storage, modification of implements as ways to support on soil bio-microbes, regenerate and rehabilitate the soil for productive agriculture. While calling for resilient researches and applications of bio-organic farming to meet food security, the Resol Researcher also illustrated the kind of nutrition needed during seedling stage, the crops that grown well in humus and compost, the best way to incorporate organic materials and the economic effects of soil carbon contents to crop production.

 

According to Dr Eberechi Cecilia Osuagwu, the Coordinator, Bio-Organic Innovation Project, a lecturer, Department of Environmental Management and Toxicology of the MOUAU College of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, CNCREM, “the conservation of the environment and natural resources, re-establishing ecological balance, encouraging sustainable agriculture, improving soil fertility, increasing genetic diversity, and putting an end to chemical pollution and toxic residues to meeting food security, good health for man, animal, plant and the entire environment boost her the quest for her for bio-organic project and for organizing the workshop.

 

The project’s focus, according to Dr. Osuagwu, a member of the Organization of Women in Science and Development, is bio-organic farming utilizing microbiomes, which are made up of a combination of soil microorganisms and 100 percent natural soil extract. She emphasized that among other benefits, this bio-organic project “enhances soil restoration, improves quality/quantity of harvest, ensures sustainability bio-organic farming, reduces water pollution by run-off, and reverses diseases associated with unhealthy food crops.”

 

She advocated for more researches, intervention of critical stakeholders, partnership and policy reforms as pivotal ways to invest in bio-organic agricultural innovations

 

In their remarks, federal legislators from the following constituencies expressed concern about the effects of unprecedented climate change, soil degradation, and loss of biodiversity on agricultural productivity: Obingwa/Osisioma/Ugwunagbo (Hon. Alozie Munachim); Ukwa East/Ukwa West (Hon. Sir Chris Nkwonta); and Umuahia North/South/Ikwuano (Hon. Obinna Aguocha). The lawmakers emphasized the importance of innovative solutions for nations to adopt, as they “not only ensure food security but also promote environmental sustainability and economic prosperity,” given the critical roles that agriculture plays in the national economy. The three argued that the use of natural resources and processes to improve soil health and slow down climate change constitutes a paradigm shift in food production represented by bio-organic agricultural innovation. During the event, they made a plea to the government to support bio-organic research with incentives and policy.

 

The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Agriculture Development Trust Fund, Muhammad Abu Ibrahim, represented virtually by Prof. Maryam Koko, the Dean of the College of Natural Science, Prof. Ejikeme Nwachukwu, the Senator Austin Akobundu representing the Abia Central Senatorial District, and the former Director General of the Imo State Orientation Agency, Hon. Lady Ebenezer Victory, all expressed their goodwill in separate messages. They noted that the workshop and theme selection were appropriate given that bio-organic agricultural innovation holds the key to addressing some of the most pressing challenges and issues facing our food systems today. They claimed that adopting this novel strategy would safeguard the biosecurity of the nation’s food supply, rebuild ecosystems, and advance economic stability for present and future generations. They emphasized that bio-organic practices, “allowing nature work for farmers”. In addition to expressing gratitude to the workshop organizers, they urged cooperation in the field of bioorganic research.

 

 

Prof. Princewill Ogbonna, the college’s dean, and Prof. Chioma Nwakanma, the head of the department of environmental management and toxicology, expressed gratitude to the university management for providing the platform that allowed the college to host the workshop. They assured that the project would offer a comprehensive method of farming that would promote resilience and sustainability over the long run. The scholars joined voices to seek for partnership and intervention of critical stakeholders in to invest in Bio-organic agricultural innovation considering the opportunities for sustainable livelihoods and economic growth it portends.

 

 

The principal officers of the university, deans, directors, heads of departments and units, academic community farmers, and civil servants attended the workshop, which attracted over 130 online registrants.

 

Additionally, the Diocesan Director of Agriculture, Rev. Fr. Augustine Iheanaetu, represented the Catholic Bishop of the Umuahia Diocese, Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Ukong; Prof. Chidozie Egesi, Executive Director/CEO of the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, was present, represented by Dr. Inno Onyekwere; and Prof. K.S. Chukwuka, Rector of Imo State Polytechnic, Omuma, Prof. Amarachi Alaka stood in his place.

 

 

The members representing

Obingwa/Osisioma/Ugwunagbo Federal Constituency – Hon. Alozie Munachim Ikechi and the State house representative – Osisioma South, Hon. Ahuama Fyne Onyekachi sent local farmers from their constituents to participate in the workshop.

 

 

Among those present were Lady Joy Maduka, permanent secretary of the Abia State Ministry of Environment, who was represented by Mrs. Abasiama Udofia; Chief Kalu Mba, member of Ohafia South, who was represented by his chief of protocol, Hon. Ibe Ogwo; and Prof. Mabel Ifeoma Onwuka, chairperson of the Organization of Women in Science and Development, who oversees the MOUAU Center for Gender, Child, and Youth Development.

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