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Demand for organic agric in varsity, college curricula rises

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Organic agriculture professionals and government officials.

As the global awareness increases on the importance of safety of food and focus shifts marginally to organically produced crops, the value of organic food demand has risen significantly.

According to Statista 2019, the value of demand for organic foods globally rose from $15.2 billion in 1999 to $97 billion in 2017. And the World Food Summit Plan of Action recognises the importance of appropriate input technologies, farming techniques and other sustainable methods such as organic farming, to assist farming operations to be profitable, with the goal of reducing environmental degradation, while creating financial resources within the farming operation.

The Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative and the Organic Practitioners of Nigeria have therefore asked the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to incorporate organic agriculture into the universities, polytechnics and colleges of agriculture and colleges of education offering agriculture.

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The duo made the call after their stakeholders’ workshop entitled, ‘Understanding Organic Agriculture for Curriculum Development for Tertiary Institutions of Learning in Nigeria,’ held in Abuja, recently.

Organic foods are produced and processed in a certified farmland or facilities, and health benefits include improvement of immune system, avoidance of food contaminants, reduction in the chances of developing food-borne diseases and general wellness.

About 20 participants representing the stakeholders of tertiary institutions of higher learning in Nigeria dealing with agricultural programmes, governmental organisations and private sectors relevant to degree and diploma certificates in agriculture gathered at the workshop at the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Abuja, and resolved some far-reaching decisions.

The stakeholders expressed support for the decision of African Heads of States and Governments on organic farming of 2010 through strategic capacity building of skilled personnel in tertiary institutions of Nigeria. And to achieve this, they called on NUC and NBTE to emplace the organic contents in the curricula.

They also called on relevant tertiary institutions of higher learning in Nigeria to consider and address the skill gap of organic agriculture personnel by offering courses in organic agriculture.

Professor VIO Olowe, President of the Organic Practitioners of Nigeria, said, “The regulatory agencies of agricultural programmes of tertiary institutions in Nigeria namely; the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), should support the development of Organic Agriculture training in appropriate institutions under them.”

That there is a need to improve capacity of appropriate personnel of tertiary institutions of higher learning in Nigeria offering agriculture to effectively train their students in Organic Agriculture components.

They also urged the federal and state governments to provide adequate funding to address capacity and equipment needs of tertiary institutions for effective training.

“We urge the NUC and Association of Deans of Agriculture in Nigeria (ADAN) to ensure mainstreaming of Organic Agriculture components by introducing Essentials of Organic Agriculture at either 200 or 300 level and Organic Agriculture Practices (practical) at 400 level,” they said.

They equally called on “the NBTE and the ARCN to prepare, repackage organic agriculture working documents for pre-critique and National Critique workshops; mainstream organic agriculture into the existing curricula of polytechnics and colleges offering agriculture as Introduction to Organic Agriculture at ND I and Organic Agricultural Practices at ND II.”

Dr Olugbenga AdeOluwa, Country Coordinator of Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative, Nigeria, urged “ECOWAS commission to advocate increased funding of ecological agriculture activities in the ECOWAS member states and for the member states to emulate the process that Nigeria had undertaken in the mainstreaming of organic agriculture into the educational curricula.”

Stakeholders also agreed to form a consortium of resource persons on mainstreaming the course into curricula of agriculture in tertiary institutions in Nigeria, and to approach appropriate government and non-governmental agencies to support funding of capacity building for the mainstreaming.

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NBTENUCOlugbenga Adeoluwa
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