Ahead of next year’s farming season, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) a non governmental organisation has trained no fewer than 40 farmers in Akwa Ibom State on how to produce organic pesticides adjudged to be cost-effective and ecosystem-friendly.
The organisation noted that the decision to train the farmers was necessitated by the alarming rate of inorganic pesticide usage which has saturated plants with poisonous chemicals. HOMEF added that the behavior has continuously triggered the rejection of Nigerian goods particularly food items at the international market.
Speaking at a one-day training for farmers at Uyo Afaha Nkan in Ikono LGA on Tuesday, HOMEF’s Director of Programme, Joyce Brown lamented that the high chemical content in inorganic pesticides was harmful for human consumption. She argued that those chemicals used on plants would not only degrade the soil but also would find their way to the natural water habitats thereby killing fishes and anybody who drinks it.
Brown said, “We are here to equip our farmers with the practical knowledge to practice agroecology to produce food not just in quality but quality enough for consumption and nourishing to the ecosystem as well. We recognise the challenges in agriculture all over the country for instance pests and diseases, infections, drought in some areas including dependence of farmers on inorganic pesticides.
“This continuous use of inorganic pesticides is compounding our problems in agriculture because they degrade our soil, that is why we have come to train our farmers in a way that will revive our soil. Again, due to the continuous use of inorganic pesticides on plants, Nigerian food items particularly beans have been rejected at the international market and this is a huge loss to the nation”
Brown noted that the organisation has been campaigning against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) being scientifically introduced into food crops and this is harmful to human beings because of its negative effects.
Brown warned farmers to refrain from being over-dependent on highly hazardous pesticides, instead, they should choose agroecology by practicing mix cropping which reduces pest attacks, and also making bio-pesticides from locally sourced plants.
Also speaking, the Farm Manager Operations of Be the Help Foundation, Mr. Chukwu Agosimigwe stressed that foods people consume have residue of chemicals in them which when consumed attacks the health and reduces lifespan of people. He noted that to eliminate this problem, farmers must embrace organic farming where they will not need chemical pesticides or fertilizer to enhance their crop yields.
Agosimigwe said that his organisation has practiced organic farming with zero use of chemicals for over six years and the impact on crop yields has been tremendous, safe for consumption, and good for export. He further appealed to the relevant agencies in the country to completely ban the use of some harmful chemical pesticides and also commended HOMEF for taking the step to train farmers on proper farming.
A beneficiary of the training who spoke to our correspondent expressed happiness about the training particularly the practical demonstration of organic pesticides. She stressed that the method would cut excessive spending and dependence on chemical pesticides which was not even good for her farmland.
Another beneficiary, Mr. Tony Atuekong said that he was not in any support of using chemical pesticides on farmers and expressed delight to HOMEF for coming to enlighten his co-farmers in the community.
Our correspondent reports that the farmers were shown how to combine natural substances like garlic, pepper, cow dung, cow urine, dogonyaro leaves and banana to produce both pesticides and fertilizer and were observed to be friendly to both plants and animals.