THE LOOMING FOOD SECURITY CRISES - Is NIGERIA doing enough?
Do you know that about 90m Nigerians make a living through Agriculture? Yet, in 2017 Nigeria spent about $6.8b on food importation. Clearly there is no shortage of manpower or arable land in Nigeria. The system is simply marred by subsistence farming methods, aging farmers’ population, lack of access to funding and poor extension services among others. By 2050, Nigeria's population is estimated to reach 350m people. If we continue to produce food at the same rate that we do today, we'll only be able to produce about 50% of what we need (maybe less) - you don't want to imagine what our import bills will be! Yet we celebrate increased export of primary Agricultural produce. But of what good is it if we sell raw ginger to China only to import ginger tea at more than doubled the price of ginger per ton - Ginger tea that the rural farmer in Kafanchan CANNOT afford.
To curtail these impending food security crises, we need a radical paradigm shift.... We MUST move from our current business as usual scenario and get to work real fast....
About 90m Nigerians make a living through Agriculture? Yet, in 2017 Nigeria spent about $6.8b on food importation. If we continue to produce food at the same rate we do today, we'll only be able to produce about 50% of what we need. We celebrate increased export of primary Agricultural produce. But of what good is it if we sell raw ginger to China only to import ginger tea more expensive
1. Farmers Cooperatives: We must educate rural farmers on the need to come together and form strong cooperatives. Formidable platforms that will help them leverage on each other’s collective strength to increase productivity and improve their livelihoods.
2. Extension Services: The extension workers are a very important element towards achieving food security. We must train and arm these people to help teach rural farmers Agricultural Innovation Systems that makes life easy and increase productivity. We must raise an army of extension workers to match the number of rural farmers - the ratio as it stands today is totally unacceptable.
3. Farm Mechanisation: We must find a way of providing farm machinery and making sure it reach the rural farmers - State governments can consider a farm machinery sharing system/platform or consider my favorite idea - affordable small farm machinery like the two wheeler tractors.
4. Financing: Agricultural financing has continue to be a bane among rural farmers in Nigeria - most commercial banks don't understand it's workings, most rural farmers know nothing about the banking system and how to access finance and sadly, most government intervention programs are often hijacked by "portfolio farmers". - We could consider innovative financing options like crowdfunding for agriculture, etc.
We must begin to see agriculture as a business and not just a subsistence way of living. We cannot continue to celebrate increase exportation of primary agricultural produce while importing processed food at 3 times the price we exported. We must develop and utilize the entire agribusiness value chain to achieve increase productivity, profitability and improve livelihoods.