NZAMUJO: Songhai Initiative Is High Yield, Environment Friendly
Founder of Songhai Farm in Benin Republic, Rev. Father Godfrey Nzamujo, was in Nigeria recently for the 16th Bassey Andah Foundation Lecture. Themed, Agriculture and Food Security, the event held at the Transcorp Hotel, Calabar. He spoke with ANIETIE AKPAN on modern techniques aimed at improving agricultural output in the continent.
What is Songhai Farm all about in today’s agriculture?
SONGHAI Farms, which is a modern revolution in agriculture, provides training programmes to individuals, corporate bodies and governments. It has also helped to set up similar farms in Katsina, Cross River and few other states in Nigeria, with a completely new and different technological, organisational and socio-economic orientation. These farms are managed and owned by the participating states, with technical assistance from Songhai Farms in Benin Republic.
It is now evident that the old system of production cannot meet the challenges of our time, especially, in Africa. The Songhai system is a part of the search to develop and deploy a new paradigm that harnesses the environmental capitals of our planet to produce more and better quality food for a growing population, while protecting and enhancing our environmental capital.
Thus, the Songhai Initiative is, basically, the harnessing of these principles to invent and develop new and appropriate technological and developmental trajectories. It is an integrated development system that organically creates dynamic linkages and synergy between agriculture, industry and services within each of these sub-systems.
To a large extent, in Africa, we have succumbed to a logic of poverty or underdevelopment, simply because we are no longer capable of internally generating the capacities to build the appropriate institutions and structures that will enable us to consistently produce the social values, goods and services that correspond to our needs and desires.
Passive consumerism, shallow and piecemeal solutions, and the quick adoption of other peoples’ experiences, solutions, systems of production and values have cheap substitutes for doing the hard work of growing up and developing native competencies and processes that would guarantee sustainable, broad-based and inclusive growth on the African continent.
We must make efforts to view this crisis in the context and dynamics of the long-term evolution of our human societies. This endeavour (long-term historical evaluation) could help us to realise that this crisis could constitute a turning point in our collective history. The disheartening socio-economic situation today, I think, will definitely get worse, if we continue to navigate with the same ‘old map’ we have been operating from a mechanistic paradigm developed centuries age. Our compass is not pointing to the ‘True North’. This ‘wrong map’, developed and adopted slowly since the beginning of the first industrial revolution engineered by the Cartesian mechanistic worldview is not going to be of much help to us today.
Given this scenario, what system do you proffer to improve our agriculture?
The Songhai regenerative agriculture promotes the real ‘greening’ of agriculture, through an ecosystem approach that draws nature’s contributions to crop and animal growth, such as soil organic matter and soil micro-organisms, rainfall, pollination and bio-control and integrated pest management.
Our space-time can be filled up more thickly and more efficiently with life cycles of different sizes that occupy different space-times. This is exactly what organisms in a naturally bio diverse ecosystems do to maximise the reciprocal, symbiotic and synergetic relationships that enhance the performance of all. Ironically, the greatest danger to sustainable development today is the depletion of the world’s renewable resources.
If economic activities must increase in a leapfrogging manner, say about tenfold over what it is — needed today to support a population that will double its size in a few years, then technology will have to reduce its impact on the environment by about twentyfold — this will be a huge technological challenge in matters of environmental sustainability, but also will be an open field for creativity and innovation. In other words, a ‘license to create’ environment will be wide open.
What is the way out to sustainable agriculture in Nigeria?
Songhai develops and promotes a process that strives to harness the regenerative forces/elements in nature to develop an agriculture that is not only multifunctional, but also enhances benevolent cycles and pathways, as it produces food in sufficient quantities and with qualities that promote healthy living, healthy aging, and disease prevention; enhances the environment (soil life, food web, soil structure, etc.) and builds sustainability and biodiversity.
The merits of a development strategy based on this type of agriculture is not only safe, affordable, high yield, high quality and sustainable, it also addresses environmental problems in both rural and urban areas and builds a strong base for an inclusive and broad-based economy.
A major value proposition in this endeavor is that, as it breaks the vicious cycle of poverty, it counters the ‘scarcity syndrome’ in the developing countries that underpins socio-economic conflicts by developing a natural and integrated farming system that is based on low cost inputs and by recycling bye-products and wastes, thanks to the deployment of micro-organisms.
Regenerative farming system and super soil development at Songhai constitute a part of our drive to develop authentic technologies that bring into play the natural forces of synergy and amplification (enzymatic actions) in nature that have been ignored by conventional methods. This method creates a pro-biotic environment that empowers the regenerative agents of nature. These agents are capable of creating ‘reverse entropy’ and the ‘super enabling’ conditions and environments like enzymatic actions; appropriate PH conditions and others producing more with less.
It is, therefore, clear that this agriculture will no longer be primarily a chemical process, like conventional agriculture. Instead, it will be largely a biological process, where our incredible environmental and biological capitals are fully engaged and harnessed. We have to relearn the way we practice agriculture from the way we view the soil and its fertility, through the way we maintain, nourish, and protect our plants and animals, to the way we condition and market them.