By Vivian Ihechu
Lack of space and urbanisation are no longer hindrances to farming as urban dwellers can grow healthy vegetables in their little corners, a nutritionist has said.
Dr Oluwatosin Adu, Chairman, Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), Lagos State Chapter, made the observation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
Adu spoke on the sidelines of a seminar on “ Organic, Urban and Sustainable Farming’’ organised by NSN in collaboration with Grow West Africa Biointensive.
“We want to say that in your own little corner, you can grow what you eat.
“Even if you are living in a room apartment, you can have a small space where you can grow little vegetables.
“Our aim is to promote adequate nutrition and inform people on how to eat well.
“This is because nutrition is the bedrock of health, the bedrock of development; when we tell people to eat well, we show them how to eat well,’’ he said.
The chairman called on Nigerians to embrace organic urban farming to promote healthy life.
“When you own your garden, you can control what you put in it and what goes out, unlike the ones you get from market which you do not know how they were grown,’’ he said.
Mrs Abosede Benedict, an organic farmer and Chief executive Officer of Grow West Africa Biointensive Ghana and Nigeria, defined organic urban farming as growing foods naturally in any available space.
“Organic farming is a system where the ecology, microorganisms in the soil and environment are not affected through the use of chemicals such as inorganic fertilisers and pesticides.
“Urban farming ensures that farming is not necessarily done on a farmland but on any available space in and around the home.
“Our advocacy is on people growing foods themselves and not relying on buying food outside because it has many nutritional and economic advantages.
“We can all do something no matter the space or area we live; even if it is cucumber that you can grow, so far it is organic and fresh, it is healthier,’’ she said.
Benedict also listed more benefits of organic farming.
“When you eat organic food, you are eating food that has high antioxidants that will give the body high immunity; with organic farming, one eats foods full of calories.
“One also knows the source of the food. The calories and nutrients in foods grown personally in an organic way are balanced; when eaten, one will not have great concerns about what happens to the body afterwards because one knows how the food is grown,’’ she said.
The farmer added that organic farming reduced artificial processing and additives.
“It also reduces exposure to pesticides which are harmful because they get into the body through the foods that they have been used on.
“Also, growing one’s foods makes the food readily available.
“There will not be pollution of air from chemical fertilisers, our water systems will be safe, no pollution in our bodies and the environment will be clean,’’ she said.
Benedict urged cooperation and collaborations among friends, families and organisations to drive organic urban farming.
“One can grow cabbage, another will grow carrot while other persons grow tomatoes and garden eggs; at the end of the day, they can come together and share their produce.
“That way, we can actually eat good and fresh food.
“There is no excuse of not having farmland because one can achieve this using any available space in our compound, balcony and inside the house, using different types of containers,’’ Benedict said.
Also, Dr Viola Nicholas-Okpara, a member of NSN and Senior Research Officer at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Lagos, said that organic urban farming promoted food security.
“When you talk about organic, we mean using natural matter during farming to increase soil nutrients rather than using chemicals.
“It is a platform to advocate for food security and nutrition security in Nigeria.
“We need to create awareness and coordinate different programmes to promote organic urban farming,’’ Nicholas-Okpara said.