On the 17th of April, 2024, Health of Mother Earth Foundation in collaboration with the GMO-Free Nigeria Alliance and the Network of Women and Youth in Agriculture held a practical training on Agroecology for farmers in Enugu State. This training focused on addressing the issues of hunger and climate change which are compounded by the existence of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) in the agriculture system.

Farmers and Federal extension workers across the state participated in the training which equipped them with the knowledge on agroecology to enable them to meet the responsibility of producing safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in the face of the climate crises while sustaining their livelihood. A total of 124 persons were in attendance – some of whom are farmers of rice, cassava, mushroom, corn, vegetables, yam, poultry, fishery amongst others.

At the end of the training farmers gained knowledge on how to produce pesticide from the Neem plant, garlic and chilli pepper; as well as how to produce the Jeevramruth fertiliser using various locally sourced materials including cow dung and urine, bananas, cowpea flour, etc. Farmers also gained knowledge of agroforestry and how to promote biodiversity, soil and plant health on their farms.  There was a lot of emphasis on mixed cropping including by adding flowers and trees on the farm as this increases productivity, reduces growth of weeds, as well as the use of chemicals on the farm.

One key question which was addressed by the farmers was: “is it really possible for Nigeria to improve and sustain agricultural productivity based on agroecological principles – excluding GMOs and inorganic chemicals?” About 90% of the farmers maintained that it was possible stating that what is primarily required is a change of mindset and for us to revisit the age-long practices of mixed cropping, use of cover crops, crop rotation, biological pest management etc which ensure optimum production of healthy and nutritious foods. The main issue of concern for the other 10% was on how to practice agroecology/produce the organic inputs on large scale. It was explained, however that Agroecology can be practiced on a large scale as is already exemplified by the farm at Be the Help Foundation in Yangoje, Abuja. 

Farmers can either produce organic fertilisers and pesticides on their own using the locally available materials or work in cooperatives to do so. Also it was noted that already there are companies like the SCL Agroindustrial Farm, in Kwali, Abuja who produce these organic input for sale. 

It was noted that GMOs and inorganic pesticides are promoted in Nigeria and other parts of Africa based on the false premise that they would ensure food security. However, in almost a decade since the introduction of GMOs in Nigeria, Nigeria still struggles with food insecurity.  GMOs are obviously not the solution to food insecurity. People are not hungry for lack of food but for lack of means to get the food.

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