Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have charged farmers to embrace sustainable certification for agribusiness to build more resilient, profitable and sustainable ventures.
They also urged the Federal Government to develop a food safety framework to improve agriculture sustainability certification in the country.
They stated this at the maiden edition of Nigeria Sustainable Agriculture Conference organised by FutuX Agri-consult, Lagos, on Wednesday.
Mr Olarenwaju Babatunde, Lead Strategist/Founder FutuX Agri-consult, Lagos, said that by adopting sustainable agriculture in Nigeria, farmers would help to improve food security.
Babatunde said that when farmers adopt sustainable practices, they are more likely to produce higher yields, which can help to increase their income and food security.
He listed some of the reasons why sustainable certification is important for the country to include improve productivity of agricultural sector, protect the environment and improve the lives of farmers and workers.
Babatunde added that when farmers use sustainable practices, they are less likely to pollute the soil, water, and air and can help to preserve the natural resources and biodiversity elements for future generations.
The convener said that when farmers are paid a fair price for their products, they are more likely to be able to provide for their families and live in decent conditions.
“In addition, sustainable certifications can also help to improve the image of Nigerian agriculture.
“By demonstrating that Nigerian farmers are committed to sustainability, we can attract new markets and boost our export earnings.
“Nigeria is a major agricultural producer, with rich agricultural heritage; with a wide variety of crops and livestock.
“Our land is fertile, our climate is diverse, and we have a long history of producing food for ourselves and for the world, and our farmers are some of the most hardworking and dedicated people in the world.
“But despite all of these advantages, our agricultural sector is facing a number of challenges, including food insecurity, climate change, inaccessible markets, land and environmental degradation.
“One of our biggest challenges is still climate change. Climate change is already having a negative impact on our agricultural production.
“We are seeing more frequent droughts, floods, irregular rainfall patterns and pest infestations.
“This is a big concern, and we need to think critically about how we can meet our present needs without compromising the needs of the future,” he said.
Babatunde said that to address these challenges, farmers must embrace sustainable agriculture certification to increase market access and profits.
“This is where sustainability comes into play. Sustainable agriculture is a way of farming that protects the environment and ensures that farmers can continue to produce food for generations to come.
“Sustainable certification is a process that ensures that agricultural products are produced in a way that is environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and economically viable.
“It can play a vital role in helping our agricultural sector to thrive as it offers a way for Nigerian agribusinesses to build more resilient, profitable, and sustainable ventures.
“By adopting sustainable practices, farmers can reduce their environmental impact, improve their production practices and yields, and increase their market access and profits.
“And by verifying this process through a third-party system, a sustainable certification can be obtained and leveraged upon to access premium markets and earn higher prices for our agricultural produce,” he added.
He urged the government to give tax holiday to agribusiness owners and food processors to encourage sustainability.
Mr Kamaldeen Raji, the Managing Director, AFEX Commodity Exchange Group, said that sustainable certification would help to improve the image of Nigerian agriculture in international community by demonstrating that farmers are committed to sustainability and standards.
Raji added that by adopting sustainable practices, farmers can reduce their environmental impact, improve their production practices and yields, and increase their market access and profits.
“We have seen our farmers labour for many years and but getting any value for their service, he said.
Also, Mrs Olusola Sowemimo, the Founder, Ope Farms, Ogun State, said that there was a lot that the government can do to support organic farmers as being done to the conventional practice.
“Food from sustainable agriculture can heal so many diseases, so many infections, so it’s something that they need to support to boost food production.
“Food security would be better boosted if sustainable agriculture is a key part of it, knowledge is key,” Sowemimo said.
Mr Samson Ogbole, the Team Lead, Soulless Farm, Ogun State, urged farmers to embrace standards to prevent their farm produce from being rejected abroad.
Ogbole also urged certification bodies to be more accessible and educate farmers on the benefits and importance of sustainable certification for agribusiness.
“This conference would educate farmers on how to go about their farming activities. It is a very interesting experience for farmers,” he added.