The head, Department of Agriculture, ECOWAS Commission Abuja, Mr Ernest Aubee has revealed that Nigeria is one of the leading countries in West Africa that have taken the lead in efforts to mainstream organic agriculture in school curriculum.
Aubee, who is also Chairman of the Regional Steering Committee, Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) initiative in Nigeria said this at a workshop on “Understanding Organic Agriculture for Curriculum Development”, organised by EOA on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said that the workshop was aimed at seeing how best to mainstream organic agriculture into the school curriculum to encourage and promote its sustainability in the country.
“What you are doing is a very big initiative that will benefit, not only Nigeria as a country, but also the other 14 ECOWAS member states.
“EOA has recently been given a pride of place in the ECOWAS Commission and we already have a project that is ongoing in some member countries.
“We hope that at the end of the first phase, we will be able to replicate it to all the 15 ECOWAS member states including.
“This meeting is indeed very timely, as it is coming at a time when we have to pay even closer attention to what we eat.
“We read in the media all the time stories about contaminated foods and as a result we must be careful as what we eat. This is important because that is part of what should define our personality and the population of the members of ECOWAS states.
“So I see this initiative of EOA in Nigeria as a very bold one in which we expect to see how best we can mainstream organic agriculture into the Nigerian curriculum.
“The outcome of this workshop will help other West African countries learn from Nigeria, the steps and approaches we have employed to get to where we are,” he said.
He encouraged other ECOWAS member states to follow suit and start work immediately on how best to make sure that organic agriculture became part and parcel of their curriculum from primary to the highest level of education.
“In attempting to do this, we must not just stop at one level, we should start from the base, from the primary to the highest level of education,” he advised.
The Acting Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Mr Saidu Madagwa, represented by Dr Kidda Danjuma of the council said that the importance of the workshop could not be over emphasised.
“The workshop is coming at a time when cases of indiscriminate use of chemicals in agriculture is becoming quite worrisome with the resultant adverse effect on public and animal health, which could have severe consequences for the environment.
“A major avenue to mitigate these adverse effects is to encourage organic agriculture practice rather than the use of inputs that could have adverse effects,’’ Madagwa said.
Dr Adamu Kazaure, the Executive Secretary, National Board for Tertiary Education (NBTE) represented by Dr Jauro Kubura said the board would continue to encourage the practice of organic agriculture.
“We are happy to partner with EOA in promoting organic agriculture and will introduce organic agriculture into the curriculum of all the Polytechnics and Colleges of Education in Nigeria.’’
Prof. Victor Olowe, the President, Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners in Nigeria called for constructive contribution from participants.
“We want ideas that will move organic agriculture forward, other countries are already running with the template we developed and we, for our part are trying to make in-roads through the NUC.
“We want to see people obtain degrees and even PHDs in organic agriculture.
“Food security is beyond what you fill your stomach with but putting the healthy kind of food into it,’’ Olowe counselled.