Organic agriculture stakeholders have called on the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and the National Universities Commission (NUC), to support organic agriculture development in the country.
The stakeholders made the call in a communique issued at the end of a two-day workshop organised by the Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative in Nigeria, in Abuja on Wednesday.
The communique was signed by Dr Olugbenga AdeOluwa, the Country Coordinator of EOA and Prof. Victor Olowe, the President, Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria.
The workshop, with the theme;“Understanding Organic Agriculture for Curriculum Development for Tertiary Institutions of Learning in Nigeria, was held on April 24 and 25.
The workshop had 20 participants representing stakeholders of institutions of higher learning in Nigeria dealing with agriculture programmes, government and private sector participants, who award degree and diploma certificates in agriculture.
The stakeholders said that the workshop was based on the need to respond to the increasing demand by private and government sectors for skilled personnel that could appropriately handle organic agriculture issues.
“We resolved to support the decision of African Heads of States and Governments on organic farming [EX.CL/Dec.621 (XVII) of 2010], through strategic capacity building of skilled personnel in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
“The workshop resolved that there was need for relevant tertiary institutions of higher learning in Nigeria to urgently consider and address the skill gap of organic agriculture personnel, by offering courses in Organic Agriculture.
“It was also decided that there was a need for the regulatory agencies of agricultural programes of tertiary institutions in Nigeria namely: NUC and NBTE, to support the development of Organic Agriculture training in appropriate institutions under them.
“We also held that there is a need to improve the capacity of appropriate personnel of tertiary institutions of higher learning in Nigeria offering agriculture, to effectively train their students in Organic Agriculture components.”
The communique also stressed the need for adequate funding, to address capacity and equipment needs of tertiary institutions in Nigeria, for effective training in Organic Agriculture.
The stakeholders, however, urged the NUC and Association of Deans of Agriculture in Nigeria (ADAN), to ensure mainstreaming of Organic Agriculture components by introducing, Essentials of Organic Agriculture at either 200 or 300 level and Organic Agriculture Practices (practicals) at 400 level.
They also want NBTE and Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), to prepare/repackage Organic Agriculture working documents for Pre-critique and National Critique workshops.
“ Mainstream Organic Agriculture into the existing curricula of polytechnics and colleges offering agriculture as the Introduction to Organic Agriculture at National Diploma (ND1) and Organic Agriculture Practices (Crop, Animal, Horticulture, Fisheries, Forestry, Wildlife) at ND2.”
“And also the ECOWAS Commission, to advocate for increased funding of ecological agriculture activities in the ECOWAS member states and for the member states to emulate the process that Nigeria had undertaken in the mainstreaming of organic agriculture into educational curriculum.”
The stakeholders also agreed to form a consortium of resource persons on mainstreaming Organic Agriculture into curricula of agriculture in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
It was equally resolved at the workshop to approach appropriate governmental and non-governmental agencies, both national and international, to support funding of capacity building for mainstreaming Organic Agriculture into curricula of tertiary institutions in Nigeria. (NAN).