An Environment expert who doubles as Organic Farming practitioner, Mr Thomas Emmanuel has charged Africans farmers to see cultivation of indigenous species as a major focus, particularly, those who are involved in organic farming, to safe African ecosystem and achieving a good health care.
The charge was made during a WhatsApp lecture organised by a Non-Governmental, profesdional and knowledge-based organisation, Journalists Go Organic, a platform that is championing the course of Organic Farming system in Nigeria and Africa.
In a lecture titled “Costus Spectabilis: Role of Indigenous Plants in Organic Farming”, the lecture that focused on pollinator and attraction for the survival African ecosystem was well attended by Organic farmers, Journalists as well as other professionals who shared philosophy of Organic Farming.
The Urban planning expert turned Organic farmer noted that, “Many of today’s plants we see around us either as food crops or ornaments are foreign and this has a great impact on the organic environment.” He added that, foreign plants tend to colonise new environment.
“You see, one thing we need to know is that foreign plants on getting to a new environment tend to colonialise the new environment. Out of what can be related to fear, they become evasive, taking as much as possible space, water and nutrients from the environment and depriving indigenous species these.” He said.
Making case for indigenous plants, he said, “Indigenous species are categorized as being a type of native species. Rather than being confined to a specific area, indigenous species tend to be more widely dispersed and adaptable. An example of indigenous species in Nigeria is the Costus spectabilis.”
He confirms that indigenous species relate better with the environment.
In his illustrations, Emmanuel said, “Do you understand how you relate well and better with your family members than outsiders? That is how indigenous species relate better with the environment.”
He also pointed out that, “Costus spectabilis like many other indigenous species have strong relationship with some indigenous animals and insects, many of which are pollinators.
“So as invasive foreign species become more common, indigenous species become rare and obscure and may become extinct.” He maintained.
Relating his experience in Organic Farming, Emmanuel said, “Having cultivated the Costus spectabilis for years, its flowers attract bees, butterflies and preying mantis to our garden. Once pollination has occurred, its seeds are formed and as the seed capsules mature, ants are attracted to the seeds due to the sweetness of the aril. These ants disperse the seeds.” He said.
He added that Organic Farming benefit by “Attraction of pollinators that would in turn increase food production.
“Source of food and medicine for our own health.
“A fundamental part of our ecosystem. He submitted.
“Costus spectabilis is known to be the national plant due to its presence in the Nigerian Coat of Arms though erroneously represented as having red flowers instead of yellow.” He pointed out.
Emmanuel is an Urban planner by training and specialising as a Landscape planner.
He partly studied Environmental Science and Resource Management at the National Open University.
A self-taught, Emmanuel studied botany, horticulture, floriculture and plant research.
According to him, “I started my own personal plant research which took me into traditional African medicine and collection of plants mainly rare and obscure plants for conservation.
“One of such plants is the national plant of Nigeria “Costus spectabilis” which I said I have researched for fourteen years, developed two domesticated varieties and cultivated over 30,000 seedlings mainly in Lagos and three other States, and the FCT.
“From inception in 2005, the garden has been cultivated on organic principles.
Emmanuel has authored a book on Costus spectabilis.