By Akoma Chinweoke
Nigeria is currently experiencing a serious food crisis in its history.Before now, the country spent over $350million on rice importation alone.The recent escalation of food prices call for sober reflection particularly as successive governments in the country have failed to address the increasing high cost of stable food in the country.
Prince Wale Oyekoya,is an experienced and practising farmer/ consultant. He attended the Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University, Huntsville AL USA. He is also the chairman, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)’s agriculture sector and the MD/CEO of Bama farms. In this interview, the commercial farmer, sheds light on problems and solutions to Nigeria’s food crisis Excerpts:
Sir, how would you react to the high cost of stable food in the country and the claim by the government that it has the right policies in place that would lead to food sufficiency? .
Nigeria’s agricultural commodities and food import bill have averaged over 1 trillion in the past years, these huge amount were expended on items that the country has the potential to produce locally, for instance, the import bill of rice and wheat was estimated at N428 billion and N307 billion in 2013 and 2014, which has continually depleted our foreign reserve.
The challenges of unemployment, rural migration, excessive dependence on oil and poor living standard of Nigerians is as a result of agricultural negligence which Nigeria has suffered over the years. The availability of timely and affordable credit delivery to this sector has been minimal over the years which makes it difficult for the citizens to practice farming.
In today’s Nigeria, one of the major problems of food production is poverty. On the other hand, one of the simplest and doubtless truth that you can easily know about Nigeria is the fact that over 75 percent of our rural dwellers are full time farmers. Another doubtless truth you can also discover is that, Nigeria’s present inability to solve her own problem of food and agriculture, is not as a result of her peoples laziness; or the matter of the nation being naturally unblessed.
How do you mean sir?
Do you know that the average Nigerian farmer is still making use of outdated farm tools. Farm tools for example, cutlass and hoe as their fore-fathers used many centuries ago. Do you also know that instead of using some affordable modern agricultural technique or simple machine; farmers in this part of the world have repeatedly adhered to various archaic agricultural method and practice that were copied from their ancestors. The use these kind of archaic and outdated tools and technique constitute a very great set-back in the country’s quest for increased food and agricultural outputs.
In my view, one of the most serious problem of food and agriculture in Nigeria is leadership, Mismanagement,embezzlement and corruption of public funds and very common within Nigerian government officials. Food and agricultural industrialization and privatization is supposed to eradicate global hunger and poverty but the reverse is the case in Nigeria.
Forest destruction and over-grazing of animals has really turned a lot of Nigeria’s farm land into deserts. Many delicious and juicy fruits, vegetables and cash crops are largely produced from Nigerian farming communities. But, do you know that very great percentage of these delicious organic farm products often get damaged or wasted before getting to the final consumer. In this kind of situation, one of the major problems that is facing the helpless local farmers, is the lack of adequate food storage and processing facilities.