Abimbola works with local farmers on extension service delivery and has produced multiple documentaries this year to promote farmers producing food following good agricultural practices concerning food safety.
I continue to work in organic practices, because I believe we all have one life and need to live it well. We must stand by trust and Integrity to support this noble cause.
Two of her main concerns are the health of consumers and the motivations behind organic growth and certification, moving away from a purely profit-based mindset:
“A lot of people nowadays are going through underlying health related issues due to the excessive intake of residual synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in their diet and I feel things must change for the better.”
Abimbola has made it her responsibility to encourage farmers to focus on putting in the work of farming organically while keeping the health of the soils that produce our food in mind. We had a conversation with her about her organic journey in Nigeria.
You have been so active in the organic scene in West Africa Abimbola. How did you get into organic farming?
I was coming from a space where most of the practices then were based on the conventional system of farming. Knowing this was not the way I wanted to farm because of the use of harmful inputs, I decided to change the way I farmed. This involved adopting the principles of sustainable agricultural practices guiding organic agriculture.
The word organic has been abused over time in the name of making it a business venture. I try as much as possible to enlighten people. To become an organic farmer, there are procedures and steps you have to follow, where you get certified by an accredited body that shows you have adopted all the principles guiding organic agriculture. It is a bit more work but it is one that promotes biodiversity and ensures the soils that produce our food stay health.
The experience empowered me in seeing that change is possible and now when I look back, I cannot go back to farming conventionally.
From what you have shared, one gets the idea that you work with other farmers quite often. Do tell us more about the work you do!
You are right! Much as I am an urban famer, I do work often with others. I advocate for rural farmers, urban gardeners and students in public and private schools through the media. They have gone through some trainings and it is still ongoing. I engage in extension service delivery to disseminate technical extension messages to farmers on crops, animal husbandry, processors as well as women in agriculture. I have worked with a lot of farmers over the years, with a focus on the message: going back to nature.
I am very passionate about sustainable farming practices that I decided to take it a little further by starting a project, Agric Reloaded, to celebrate the farmers in my community who put healthily grown-food on our tables. This project grew to become a face for many African farmers and showcase their work in agri-business to the world. This is the very reason I produced my first documentary showcasing the stories of these amazing organic farmers.
It is impressive what you have been able to achieve in your work. In fact, some of your work has been linked to IFOAM – Organics International. Why do you think it is important to have organizations like that operating?
IFOAM – Organics International aims to promote organic agriculture as a tool to reduce poverty and increase healthy living standards. They assist farmers in adopting ecologically, socially and economically responsible agriculture systems to move towards sustainability. This supports the long-term health of the land and enables the farmers to provide consumers with food without using synthetic fertilizer and herbicides.
The IFOAM standards are used by farmers in many countries, who support the organic principles of Health, Fairness, Care and Ecology. IFOAM – Organics International is a major player for the organic movement, sharing success stories and tremendous achievements across the globe. The recent Organic World Congress (OWC 2021) in France is another milestone for the organic movement.
I personally had the opportunity to participate in the congress and also the #IGrowYourFood action day thanks to support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). I was very happy to interact with so many people from the organic movement and exchange ideas. It was such a heartfelt experience when my video message was selected and played at the event during the #IGrowYourFood action day!
In your opinion, who are the important players in helping the organic movement?
The consumers and the policy makers are major stakeholders in the organic movement. There is a need to awaken their consciousness about supporting healthy living to grow a vibrant economy. Policymakers come in to play in ensuring that structures are put in place to support the farmer’s productivity for market profitability.
Policies should be structured in such a way that it outlives the office of Leaders, so we can secure the future of our ecosystems.