June 11, 2009

’90m Nigerians under threat of food insecurity’

The President, All Farmers Association of  Nigeria (AFAN), Dr Abdullahi Adamu, said on Thursday in Abuja that   more than 90 million Nigerians were under the  threat of food insecurity.

Adamu told the News Agncy of Nigeria (NAN) that the situation should   be of concern to all  tiers of government and the stakeholders in the   agriculture sector as the population was ever  increasing.    He said the only solution to food insecurity was through adequate   investment in  agricultural development, diversification from oil to   agriculture and provision of infrastructure in the rural areas.

Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa, said that with the vagaries  of the international oil  market and the current global financial crisis,  the need for Nigeria to diversify her income base  could not be   over_emphasized.

He said the dwindling external earnings occasioned by the slide in oilprices and the restiveness of youths in the Niger Delta definitely had  telling effects on Nigeria?s  finances and her development plans.

He further said that rural dwellers that constituted the majority of the  nation’s population and the  major producers of farm produce were being   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 per  cent of national population   that resided in the rural areas.

According to him, government’s basic responsibility to its people is to alleviate poverty and   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.

‘’Adequate  and functional infrastructure remains the backbone and driving   force for the  economy of every nation and the major source of income in   the rural areas is agriculture  therefore deficiency in infrastructure impacts negatively on agriculture,’’ he said.

Adamu noted that the development of agriculture was necessary for the  country to meet the  vision 20_2020, President Umaru Yar?Adua?s 7_point   agenda and other food security and  poverty alleviation programmes.

‘’The challenge before government and other stakeholders is the need  to re_strategise and focus more on the rural farmers that are the major producers of food in the country through a holistic  integrated agricultural development,’’ he said.

He said agricultural development was constrained by various factors  like policy inconsistency, under investment in modern technology,   inadequate credit facility, weak private sector linkage,  inefficient  marketing, storage and processing structures and price instability   for farmers.
He said that up till this moment there were no fixed prices for farmers thereby making them to sell  their produce at give away prices  determined by middlemen.

The AFAN president said for Nigeria to be able to feed its people in accordance to the MDG  mandate, all the key issues constraining the  sector must be given adequate attention and the small rural farmers   must be carried along.

He said that by implication the development of agricultural infrastructure must be given the  required focus while the appropriate strategies which recognised greater private sector  participation became crucial.