By Gabriel Ewepu

ABUJA- WITH excruciating pain of hunger and criminality ravaging the country, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Tuesday, called on government at all levels to subsidize food production in order to reduce high prices.

The National President, AFAN, Arc Kabir Ibrahim, said government needs to consider agricultural sector for subsidy instead of pumping huge monies into petrol importation and why not use that money to boost food production for local consumption and export including massive job creation for Nigerians.

Ibrahim said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught the entire world the need to be self sufficient in food, medicine and almost every facet of life so shocks such as the
Russia-Ukraine war should serve as a wake up call to Africa if we really want the continent to become sustainably competitive and prosperous.

“In Nigeria, we have put in place several initiatives such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Anchor Borrower Initiative,the Agriculture Promotion Policy, Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, Integrated Farm Initiatives by
National Agricultural Land Development Authority, NALDA, National Livestock Transformation Plans, NLTP, Farmer Data Capture, Social Safety Nets, National Food Reserve Agency, Seed, Fertilizer and Soil Acts to give impetus to a veritable food system but the implementation has not been satisfactory and need to be sustained beyond the life of this administration to be impactful in the Agricultural Transformation of Nigeria’s economy and in the last analysis Africa’s economy.

“The vulnerability of Africa’s economy due the various shocks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine War and insecurity can only be mitigated by the evolution an efficient ‘Africa food system’.

“All countries in Africa must commit to sizeable investments in Agriculture to bolster their food systems to avert further stresses and challenges of food and physical insecurity pervading the entire continent.”

The AFAN boss expressed concern and called for focus on the smallholder farmers, whom he described as engine too of food production, should be the stakeholders who are to receive the subsidy directly.

“The SHFs are the engine room of production in Agriculture in Africa with the low level of mechanization currently and must therefore be directly subsidized to attain a reasonable level of food sufficiency in the entire continent”, he said.

Speaking on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCTA, he commended the initiative by African countries as it will place the continent on the path of prosperity.

However, he stated that the AfCTA can only be effective when the right strategies are in place and implemented.

“The AfCFTA initiative is germane to Africa’s prosperity if the right kind of strategies are judiciously deployed in its implementation.

“All countries in the continent should create the requisite synergy among themselves by optimizing productivity, processing,storage, distribution and consumption of food to evolve a veritable food system.

“It is our ethos to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper in Africa so it must be taken to its full potential by creating a United States of Africa by revamping the African Union, AU, in such away that it is given teeth to bite hard enough to make the leadership question in all African countries more transparent and focused”, he pointed.

While noting that there are several innovations in agriculture aside from mechanization and value addition, he (Ibrahim) said, “Such as Climate Smart Agriculture, the sustainable deployment of Agricultural Biotechnology as well as all year round Agricultural production to make Africa the ‘Food Continent’of the globe especially leveraging on its large cultivable land and nearly 60 per cent youth population.”

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