The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Cross River Chapter, has said that the deplorable condition of roads was responsible for the drop in the food supply in the state.
The Chairman of the Association, Mr. Etim Nakanda, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Calabar in commemoration of the 2019 World Food Day.
NAN reports that the World Food Day is celebrated annually on Oct. 16 to generate awareness globally for those who suffer from hunger and to ensure the need for food security and nutritious diets.
The theme of this year’s celebration is entitled: “Our Actions Are Our Future: Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World”.
According to the Cross River AFAN chief, the cost of bringing produce from farming communities to urban centres in the state is so expensive due to the bad state of the roads.
Nakanda said that a large chunk of the produce rots away in the farms due to the poor state of the roads.
He said that although the state government was publicizing its achievements in the agricultural sector, the truth was that the Cross River farmers had not felt the government’s impact.
The association chairman said that Cross River as a leader in cassava and cocoa production in Nigeria had failed in the enhancement of the production of these items.
“When you calculate the cost of bringing out food produce from farming communities in the state, it is better to just allow the food to rot in the farms.
“To make matters worse, our post-harvest management is so poor; we need good storage facilities in the state, to preserve our agricultural produce.
“As a veteran in the agricultural sector, who had served in various capacities both at the federal and state levels, I talk from a practical background.
“To improve food sufficiency in the state and the nation, farmers must be empowered; they need machines and incentives because the world had gone digital,” he said.
According to the association chief, most of our farmers sent for training by the state government have all comeback, but there is no incentive for them to start.
Nakanda advised the state government to look inwards and establish effective cocoa, rice, cassava, oil palm and fisheries committees, for the development and export of this produce, and to rehabilitate farms in the state.
“We must stop politicising agriculture in Cross River and be practical; that is the only way we can feel the impact of agriculture in the state,” he said.
Nakanda lauded the government’s closure of its borders because of the enormous benefits to the country in the area of agriculture and security.
He said, however, that the government should not end at closing the land borders, but must go a step further by identifying and empowering the farmers to boost production for food sufficiency.
Nakanda noted that to ensure a future of food sufficiency in Nigeria, the nation must harness the physical and mental capacities of its youths, by encouraging them to go into agriculture.
He said that this would drastically reduce unemployment and insecurity in the nation.