Farmers at a dialogue organised by Health of Mother Health Foundation (HOMEF) recently has called for increased productivity and for a resilient food system while also urging the government to put a ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
The farmers said resilient food and farming system is highly dependent on the protection and preservation of biological diversity. While industrial agriculture and market-based technologies destroy biodiversity, real farmers (small holder farmers) are faced with the challenge of making healthy food available in large quantities.
The issue of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and their implications were discussed, followed by discussions on alternatives to GMOs and agroecology as a viable solution to the food and climate challenges.
Also discussed were the general and specific challenges farmers face in the cultivation of different crops; harmful farming practices; sustain-able and indigenous farming practices and suggestions for food sovereignty in Nigeria.
Knowledge was shared on how GMOs tamper with Nigeria’s ability to achieve food sovereignty. This is linked to the fact that many GM seeds come with patents that disallow re-cultivation of same seeds after the first planting season. This is coupled with the fact that the cultivation of GM seeds, especially the herbicide tolerant varieties lead to soil degradation and loss of biodiversity.
The dialogue re-enforced the importance of preserving biodiversity and the indigenous food system in Nigeria.
To strengthen this understanding, Joyce Ebebeinwe, HOMEF’s Programmes Manager who represented the Director, Nnimmo Bassey at the dialogue illustrated the connection between food and agricultural system, and disease invasions such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Olugbenga Adeoluwa, a senior lecturer in the University of Ibadan and a practicing farmer, created an understanding that when farmers adopt farming techniques like the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) crops, they import foreign problems.