Food insecurity: Pushing agriculture to the height of maximum productivity

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Realities of the prevailing socio-economic conditions in Nigeria is driving towards the wall of frustration  as many citizens are now grappling with hardship and hunger amidst tough situations. The phenomenon of famine in Nigeria has most recently more or less grown to become a myth. The paradox in perception has been one of scarcity amidst plenty. The plenty on this note finds expression in the enormity of resources at the disposal of the Country left untapped and unexploited. The lamentation continues to reverberate on the sorry state at which these resources are left dormant and unproductive. Nigeria’s topography and landmass remain resources of enormous wealth which have been left to the state of under-performance. Neglecting the potency of these great natural endowment has over the years been costing the Country huge losses.

The importation of food items into Nigeria despite the huge agricultural potentials of the Country is a paradox which is a reflection of the state of economic insensitivity in the management of the Country’s resources.  The necessity to address the challenges of the agricultural sector is alarming. The fact that Nigeria over 60 years of independence is still wallowing in food insufficiency and economic depression and its attendant socio-political impacts, despite the enormity of her natural resources, is worrisome. It is essential that the Federal Government take the lead for a revolutionary move to resuscitate the Agricultural sector. The need to institute reforms to revamp the sector demands sustained impetus and navigating force premised on plausible policies, virile enough to push the workings of the sector to the echelon of efficiency and profitable productivity. This move however, demands all hands to be on deck. Thus, it should be a drive encompassing the support of other levels of governments, particularly the State Governments to corroborate efforts from the Federal government.

It is essential that the Government constitute a conference with stakeholders to come up most plausible recommendations to serve as the bedrock in addressing the cluster of challenges bewildering the sector. Much alarming on the part of the Government is to ensure as “policy maker” that it engages extensively with the stakeholders to develop seasoned  policies to lay the systemic ambiance for the sector to thrive. It therefore important for the time being that while the Government moves towards reforming the foundation to reposition the agricultural sector, the need for quick intervention on the issues of security,  particularly insurgencies in the Northern part of the Country is essential. The effects of farmers/herders crisis and insurgency is inflicting huge blows on the agricultural sector. This in conjunction to natural disasters, particularly flooding in recent times, have left an undesirable atmosphere of looming food shortages and inflation projected to take hard grip by 2021.

The need for other interventions, such as provisions of palliatives to farmers affected by these occurrences is key. Subsidizing farm inputs and addressing the issue of insurgency are matters the Government should forcefully move towards addressing as emergencies in the short run. In the long run, the Government should prioritize the necessity of shifting from the traditional to mechanized agricultural system. On the path to this, it is essential for the Government to guide against the usual practice of unstable policies where policies die with each successive government. It is important that the foundation be set for proper  linkage transportation networks and efficient market chain and storage system.

While the Federation Government has placed policy ban on the importation of certain food staples, it is important that such policies be backed with navigating mechanisms that will push domestic production of these products to appreciable level of sufficiency in the local economy. The production of rice is still at a level incommensurate to the demands for the staple. The resultant effect has been a resistance to the policy by the populace who view it (policy) as nothing but another calculated attempt by the Government to further weaken them with hardship amidst inflation and economic depression. The purview largely owes to the high price of local rice whose quality is substandard to foreign rice and largely insufficient to meet demands. The shortfalls have continued to encourage smuggling activities.

While it is essential to encourage local production for food self sufficiency, the onus lies on the Government to come up with all overarching policies which work in complementary compendium to achieve the desired result at the fastest possible time with the highest feasible results. The prevailing inflation in food  prices demand special intervention by the Government. It is important that the Federal Government take the lead in harmony with the Federating units to see to addressing this reality. The recent looting of warehouses in search for hoarded palliatives across the Country which trailed the #EndSARS protests is not largely unconnected to unpalatable conditions under which citizens of the Country are living. It is a clear reflection of acute hunger across the Federation. The Government should not be so insensitive to being proactive in avoiding a similar occurrence in the future. The best option to foreclose a repeat of such possibility is to proactively muster rational efforts towards rescuing the Country from hunger, by forcefully driving the necessity for food self-sufficiency with brilliant policies and the required political will.