By Japhet Alakam
University Press Plc, organizers of the yearly Authors Forum successfully held the ninth edition of the event last week.
The forum is a yearly opportunity for authors to celebrate themselves and reflect on their roles as nation builders. Present at this year’s event were prominent writers and educationists including Emeritus Professors Ayo Banjo and Ayo Bamgbose; Professors Niyi Osundare, Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, Eze Chukwuemeka Ike and Femi Osofisan, among others.
In the past editions, the forum had deliberated on books, publishing, languages, and on how to revive the reading culture. But this year, the organizers came to the realisation that one cannot read or learn well with an empty stomach. Hence the theme: Agricultural Policies, Programmes and Small-Holder Farming Systems vis-a-vis Food Security in Nigeria, a theme carefully chosen to reflect the immediate and potential challenge that could confront the nation as a result of the current food insecurity.
The forum also remembered and eulogised the late Osita Ike, son of Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike, who died last December, consoling his 86 years old father, a writer and traditional ruler of Ndikelionwu in Anambra State.
In his lecture, the professor of Soil Science from University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Charles Livinus Asadu, who spoke on ‘Agricultural Policies, Programmes and Small-Holder Farmers Systems vis-a-vis Food Security in Nigeria,’ said that Nigeria has all it takes to surmount food insecurity. Asadu blamed frequent policy changes and poor budgetary allocations since the advent of oil boom in the 1970s, as reasons for Nigeria’s poor performance in the agricultural sector.
He called on government to first of all map the country’s soil structure so that would-be farmers will be aware of what to plant and where. Asadu also advised government to mechanise agriculture to take away the drudgery so as to attract young people into farming.
On his part, the veteran writer, Eze Ike, who did not mention the death of his son, spoke about the new agricultural initiative of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State – a new farming policy thrust for a profitable agricultural drive for Anambra people.