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Equip Farmers to better yield

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Remove GMOs from our food.

By Stella Peters

K-Dere community has benefited from the training of a non-governmental organisation, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), which has called on farmers in the country to embrace the use of organic fertilisers and organic pesticides in their farming activities to improve yield and provide healthy foods for the citizenry.

A beneficiary, Silvian Paanwi, expressed gratitude to HOMEF for the training and urged the government to partner with the NGO and others to expand the knowledge to other women from the localities for better agricultural production.

HOMEF advised farmers to practice agroecology as against reliance on harmful chemicals for their planting which has links to many of the diseases prevalent in the society. HOMEF called on the government to completely ban the importation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into the country because of its environmental and economic implications.

A facilitator during the training Chukwu Agozirim Ifoegbu of Be The Help Foundation, who took the farmers on the training session, said the use of agroecology and agro-forestry helps to increase soil nutrients through efficiency of water and carbon retention, urging them to avoid burning their farms as the farm remnants after harvest contributes to soil nutrients and crop yields.

Speaking at a training for farmers in K-Dere community in Gokana local council of Rivers State, Programmes Director of HOMEF, Joyce Brown said the training for farmers has become necessary because the international market is now rejecting most Nigerian farm produce because of excessive use of pesticides.

Brown noted that the use of organic fertilisers, organic pesticides, and agro-forestry would help to produce healthy foods and combat climate change in the country. “We did this training because we are trying to teach our farmers how to use these organic fertilisers as against using inorganic pesticides and fertilisers which have serious implications for human and environmental health and even our economy because many of our products are being rejected in the international market due to excessive use of pesticides.

“Agroecology and the use of organic agriculture actually focus on improving soil health and you know when we have healthy soil, we would be able to have better productivity and we would have healthy food because a lot of sicknesses today are linked to the food that we consume in addition to environmental pollution”.

Brown explains that agroecology also helps to mitigate the impact of climate change because it does not depend on fossil fuels and it also helps farms to be resilient to climate change, whereas industrial agriculture depends on fossil fuels, the production of those inorganic fertilisers releases a lot of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Programme director of HOMEF have called for the ban of GMO said farmers don’t need it as a lot of them do not know the implication for the health of their environment.

“Our message to the government is to ban GMOs because, from interaction with farmers across the country, farmers keep telling us that they do not need GMOs. What they need is support in terms of extension services, showing them how to do agriculture in a way that works with their local environment, with their agroecology and for government to support by investing in agro-ecology and help our farmers to do much more working in line with nature.”

On his part, Erabanabari Kobah, Director, Citizens Resource Services, a partner organisation said the soil in the area has suffered from several years of degradation which has led to dwindling crop yields, so there was need for application of natural fertilisers for better yield.

“Many years of oil exploration has devastated our environment to the point that farm produce is dwindling and farm income is also dwindling, the people continue to toil in their farms with little from it.So we think that it’s important if they are sensitised on some measures they can adopt towards improving their crop yields since they may not have money to buy pesticides that would also harm the environment”.

He called on the government at all levels to partner with NGOs like HOMEF to expand the training and also adopt initiatives that will be beneficial to farmers through agroecology.

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