The President, All Farmers Association ofÂ Nigeria (AFAN), Dr Abdullahi Adamu, said on Thursday in Abuja thatÂ Â more than 90 million Nigerians were under theÂ threat of food insecurity.
Adamu told the News Agncy of Nigeria (NAN) that the situation shouldÂ Â be of concern to allÂ tiers of government and the stakeholders in theÂ Â agriculture sector as the population was everÂ increasing.Â Â Â He said the only solution to food insecurity was through adequateÂ Â investment inÂ agricultural development, diversification from oil toÂ Â agriculture and provision of infrastructure in the rural areas.
Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa, said that with the vagariesÂ of the international oilÂ market and the current global financial crisis,Â the need for Nigeria to diversify her income baseÂ could not beÂ Â over_emphasized.
He said the dwindling external earnings occasioned by the slide in oilprices and the restiveness of youths in the Niger Delta definitely hadÂ telling effects on Nigeria?sÂ finances and her development plans.
He further said that rural dwellers that constituted the majority of theÂ nationâ€™s population and theÂ major producers of farm produce were beingÂ Â further driven into poverty by both the global food and financial crises.
Adamu said the contribution of rural infrastructure to national economic development could better be appreciated when viewed from the perspective that they served majority of more than 70 perÂ cent of national populationÂ Â that resided in the rural areas.
According to him, governmentâ€™s basic responsibility to its people is to alleviate poverty andÂ Â promote development which could be achieved by diversifying the economy and elevate the standard of living of the rural populace with adequate provision of infrastructure.
â€˜â€™AdequateÂ and functional infrastructure remains the backbone and drivingÂ Â force for theÂ economy of every nation and the major source of income inÂ Â the rural areas is agricultureÂ therefore deficiency in infrastructure impacts negatively on agriculture,â€™â€™ he said.
Adamu noted that the development of agriculture was necessary for theÂ country to meet theÂ vision 20_2020, President Umaru Yar?Adua?s 7_pointÂ Â agenda and other food security andÂ poverty alleviation programmes.
â€˜â€™The challenge before government and other stakeholders is the needÂ to re_strategise and focus more on the rural farmers that are the major producers of food in the country through a holisticÂ integrated agricultural development,â€™â€™ he said.
He said agricultural development was constrained by various factorsÂ like policy inconsistency, under investment in modern technology,Â Â inadequate credit facility, weak private sector linkage,Â inefficientÂ marketing, storage and processing structures and price instabilityÂ Â for farmers.
He said that up till this moment there were no fixed prices for farmers thereby making them to sellÂ their produce at give away pricesÂ determined by middlemen.
The AFAN president said for Nigeria to be able to feed its people in accordance to the MDGÂ mandate, all the key issues constraining theÂ sector must be given adequate attention and the small rural farmersÂ Â must be carried along.
He said that by implication the development of agricultural infrastructure must be given theÂ required focus while the appropriate strategies which recognised greater private sectorÂ participation became crucial.