The world is facing a food crisis at a time when a full one third of all foods produced are being wasted globally. While this is going on, there are close to one billion people that go to bed on empty stomachs daily. About the same number is malnourished. It may surprise some that being malnourished is not necessarily a factor of how much food one eats, but of the quality and mix of foods eaten.

The workshop aims to boost learning on nutrition through natural foods and to interrogate the claims/myths of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as the panacea for nutritional deficiencies in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Secondly, the workshop will build knowledge of participants on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) process as a foundational tool for defending our environment.

The confluence of agriculture, nutrition and biological diversity is inescapable because of the broad impact of farming. Farming often entails land conversion and could enhance or diminish biodiversity depending on the type of farming involved. Industrial monocultures massively reduce biodiversity and the genetically engineered sort diminishes biodiversity much more.

Agro-ecological and small scale farming on the other hand is diverse and supports and sustains diversity. It also promotes nutrition on account of its wholesome products that are not dependent on artificial chemical inputs.

Small scale farming may appear small and inconsequential, easy to dismiss by big time farmers, but when aggregated they amount to the largest share of agricultural investments. They are the keepers of traditional wisdom. It is an agricultural system that helps cool the planet and not boil it. It holds the key to the survival in the postmodern world that is looming so near.

Agriculture is not merely about filling our bellies. It is our culture, our way of life. Food is not only about what goes through our mouths; we also feed with our eyes! Food contributes to our sense of well-being and of being.

Nutrition is not a product of the laboratory. It is a product of a caring farmer’s hand that comes onto our plates and end up in our bodies. Wholesome foods come from wholesome environments.

Hunger and nutrition have become items for political manipulation and it will be a sad day if we surrender our agriculture to forces that we know are working against our interest and solely for the interest of domination, subjugation and control. We can avoid that humiliation. We are capable of feeding ourselves by supporting our system of production and foods. We must demand and defend our food sovereignty – it is the way to secure our health and survival.

A Welcome Word by Nnimmo Bassey at a Workshop on Stopping the False Nutritional Kite & Understanding the Convention on Biological Diversity organised by Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) at Protea Hotel Apo Apartments, Abuja, Nigeria on Tuesday 08 October 2013.

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