Knowledge of organic agriculture keeps improving and one has to keep learning. After learning, I do trials to be able to create processes I will follow to sustain what I have learnt.
Mrs Olusola Sowemimo, the founder of Ope Farms says that organic farming, like most businesses, requires deep and constant upgrading of knowledge for sustainability.
Sowemimo, who is also a Lawyer at Seyi Sowemimo & Co said this while making an online presentation at a forum organized by Journalists Go Organic Initiative, noting that no day passes without her consciously learning something new.
“ Knowledge of organic agriculture keeps improving and one has to keep learning. After learning, I do trials to be able to create processes I will follow to sustain what I have learnt.
“Where we were when we started seven years ago was pitiful compared to where we are now. Recently a Polytechnic paid and enlisted my consultation to start their organic farm.
“ I have had other farmers pay to learn what has worked for us so far because it is not a walk in the park, but the satisfaction I get from it is priceless: Ironically, many don’t want to pay for knowledge.
“At every meeting with my workers I update their knowledge, once I learn something new, we just keep training as we employ, for years we had a good retention but with commercial bikes, it’s been tough”.
She said that in farming experience counts and that sometimes it is full of pain but that at other times it could be full of joy too.
“This year we harvested almost 400kg of sweetcorn at once, a great feat.
“I have never wished ‘if only I could spray chemicals’, never. I don’t even own a parallel farm, unlike some people who own an organic farm in one place and a conventional farm in another place.
“The day a project I was going to invest in showed me their breakdown and I saw chemicals alone at N400,000, I dropped out’’.
The Lawyer-farmer also hinted that her prayer is to establish an Organic Training School in Nigeria.
“I have been training women on how to grow food at home and from 2015 till date, I have trained over 800 people’’.
“Ope Farms has a database of almost 400 families on the distribution list of our Family Basket and we supply produce directly to their homes.
“Quite a number of youths have passed through my tutelage as interns and I will continue to groom youths who choose organic agriculture.
“In January 2019, we hosted 27 interns at once, the largest batch of interns so far. Some interns will also be resuming on the farm once they are on vacation to grow food for sale. This we do as a way of motivating them”.
Sowemimo who said she lost her mum to cancer said that her passion for safe and healthy food for optimum health motivated her to start Ope Farms, a certified organic farm that grows its crops with zero chemicals and synthetic inputs.
“You may have heard so many things about organic farming and wondered whether it is really in practice. Truth is, it is.
“A lot has been said already about these principles of organic agriculture but let me add that these principles are what still guide our operations at Ope Farms.
“When we talk of the principle of health we are talking about the health of the soil, health of our workers, health of our consumers and by the time one considers this principle, one will be reluctant to pour chemicals on the food that other human beings will eat’’.
She added that Ope Farms raises its livestock without any synthetic vaccines or antibiotics.
“We do not cage our birds, caged birds are in one place all their lives and that is not natural to them, our poultry birds walk freely in their pens and we allow them free range two or three times a week’’.
Sowemimo who was awarded the Organic Farmer and Processor of the year by the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative in Nigeria in 2019 promised to only grow food that will either keep people healthy or heal them.
“If all these people are well and alive just because of the kind of food they ate then Nigerians deserve the same opportunity’’, she advocated.