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HOMEF Trains Farmers On Agro-ecological Practices, Bio-fertilizer Production In Rivers

By Obiabin Onukwugha

In a bid to help improve food production and restore the environment, frontline environmental body, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), has embarked on a two-days training for farmers in Eteo community in Eleme local government area of Rivers State.

During the training, participants were taught bio fertilizer and pesticides production and as well mangrove nursery and planting. The participants were also trained on the role mangrove play on the environment and the need to nurture and protect them.

Speaking with journalists shortly after the training, Programme Lead of HOMEF, Stephen Oduware, said the training aims to restore the livelihood of the people, which have been destroyed by oil exploration and exploitation.

He said: “We are here today at Eteo community to have sessions of practical training on agro-ecological practices and also that of mangrove restoration.

“You will recall that Eteo community is impacted by oil spills and have destroyed their farmlands, and have destroyed their mangroves, including the ecosystems. So we have been having series of meetings with them, number one to build solidarity, number two to train them on effective environmental monitoring.

“But here we are training them on practical application on agro-ecological practices. Agro-ecological practices is that farming practice that works with nature, that does not take in artificial and chemical inputs. So that is what we have brought to them, to improve the health of their soil and to improve their yield as farmers. And also to work together with them to restore the mangrove and ecosystems of the area.You will recall that the mangrove have been destroyed.

“Mangroves have a lot of benefit to both the community and the people as a whole. The mangrove stands as a buffer against dangerous storms from the sea and when that is not there, the impact gets to the community. It helps to control erosion, it even improves fishing as we know that a lot of fish find the mangrove as shelter and as a harbour.”

He expressed optimism that the farmers will employ the knowledge gained to improve their living conditions, saying, “It is our hope that we will be able to develop a community restoration plan that will bring back that dignity, that will bring back that wellbeing that the community enjoyed in the past before the advent of destructive extractive processes that brought them into the current situations that they have found themselves.”

On his part, one of the resource persons, Iwan Banabas, posited that having farmers produce their own fertilisers and pesticides will reduce cost of production.

Bananas who is a farmer and General Supervisor of Be the Help Foundation, Abuja, also pointed out that bio fertilizers improve the health conditions of the people as it does not contain chemicals.

“With the knowledge we have given them, they can be able to produce their own fertilizer and pesticide with the things they have in their houses, not going out to buy chemical fertilizer.

“With this, it will take them out from cost of production because the amount of money farmers are now using to produce food now is high. A bag of chemical fertilizer as of last year was N25,000. This year I dont know how much it will cost. But with the community producing their own fertilizer with the things around them, I guarantee you, the cost of their production will reduce,” he said.

He called on the federal and state governments to sensitise farmers across the country as it will lead to food security, improve the health conditions of the people and boost the economy.

“The problem starts with, what do people have to eat, because if there is no food and there is money, you can’t eat the money and who are the people producing the food, it is the farmers. If they can be supported with the knowledge they need in production, then those in the towns and non-farmers will have food. But if farmers don’t have this information that they need then there is going to be problem and the problem will be, they will not have food to eat or to sell to the people,” he stated.

One of the participants, Comrade Mene Benard, thanked HOMEF for the training. He said, it is a golden opportunity for him to improve his farming and pass the knowledge to others.

He said: “I learnt a lot about agro-ecology, it has broadened my thought, my knowledge about agro-ecology. It taught us how mangrove can be wind breakers, and most especially the aspect of bio-fertilizers. It’s quite applauding. I am thinking of organizing a little students tours, go to schools where I can also pass this knowledge to the younger ones because it’s quite educating.”

 

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