Small scale farmers are largest aggregate investors in agriculture in Nigeria.
The Nigerian government has been urged to consult small scale farmers in its policy making, signing of treaties, and conventions.
This was part of the resolutions reached at the end of a workshop on Stopping the False Nutritional Kite and Understanding the Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD, in Abuja.
Participants at the workshop noted that small scale farmers are the largest aggregate investors in agriculture in Nigeria and in the world.
They also noted that large scale land grabbing was happening in the country without the consent of farmers and communities.
Participants urged government to make available initiatives that would enhance agricultural and food preservation techniques.
“Government and civil society groups should embark on intensive education of grassroots farmers on the provisions of the CBD and related conventions, treaties and policies,” read the 11 point resolution presented after the workshop.
“The provisions of the CBD should be fully explained to farmers and citizens as a key tool for biodiversity protection. Government should ensure that GMOs are not brought into Nigeria in the absence of a strict Biosafety Law and in line with the precautionary principle of the Cartagena Protocol.”
While calling for strict penalties for defaulters of the provisions of the CBD, the resolution further urged policy makers to ensure that only safe products were allowed into Nigeria and to ensure a strict implementation of the CBD.
The resolution also stated that the current Nigerian Biosafety Bill, pending signature of the President, should be open to farmers and the public for inputs.
“The Nigerian President should not assent to the National Biosafety Bill in its current form (in order) to give opportunity for citizens’ and critical stakeholders input in line with the provisions of the Cartagena Protocol which Nigeria is signatory to.
“There should be full transparency on the part of government and her agencies in the labelling, liabilities and redress in the Biosafety laws and in the promotion of practices that support food sovereignty,” the resolution added.
The workshop was convened by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, to build knowledge of participants on the Convention on Biological Diversity process as a foundational tool for defending the environment.
Among the observations by participants at the workshop include the need to educate the average Nigerian farmer on the CBD since it is “technical and not an easy convention to be understood” by them.
Participants also observed that there were unauthorised genetically modified organisms, GMOs, and foods in Nigeria and that Nigerians were not aware of their health and dietary risks.