FOR Nigeria to adequately feed its populace, drive sustainable non-agricultural revenue, attain food security, as well as provide meaningful employment for millions of youths in the country, the leaders must be ready to articulate a clear agricultural vision in this direction.
This piece of advice was given by a senior agricultural economist, World Bank office, Abuja, Dr Adetunji Oredipe, while delivering a paper entitled “food security and national development” during a ceremony to mark 290 days in office of the executive of Ibadan Recreation Club (1902), in Ibadan, Oyo state.
Oredipe said though agriculture has huge potentials in the country, the country must hearken to the advice of its former Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, to produce what to eat and eat what the country produces.
He said, “Nigerian agriculture has potential, but the potential must be transformed into food supply to deliver nutritious food to our growing population. As of 2019, 37 percent of children under five in Nigeria were reported to be stunted, compared to 23 percent in Ghana, 44.7 percent in Benin;33.3 percent in Botswana, Burkina Faso, 32 percent in Cameroon; and 35 percent in Kenya.
“To reverse this trend, we must articulate a clear vision to achieve a hunger-free Nigeria, through an agricultural sector that drives income growth, accelerates achievement of food and nutritional security, generates employment and transforms Nigeria into a leading player in global food markets.
“ In doing this, our vision should be to move Nigeria to become an agriculturally-industrialised economy, to create wealth, jobs and markets for farmers, and revive the rural economy. We must adopt an ambitious agricultural promotion strategy focused on a combination of transformational policy reforms and investments that would foster private investment and expand the benefits to millions.
“The government needs to get out of certain aspects of agriculture and turn this over to the private sector in order to improve efficiency. We need to focus on agricultural value chains and not just on increasing production. What will happen to the increase if there are no markets and no Agro processing firms that will help mop up the increased yields? We also need to realise that it is extremely difficult to produce, process and market at the same time. It is better to specialise and pick a certain aspect to focus on. Access to information is becoming an integral part of our agriculture.
“Government can focus on actions to strengthen resilience to conflict and climate change include community-based interventions such as those under the Fadama project in the North-East to address fragility; interventions in the livestock sector to help prevent and mitigate conflicts between herders and farmers; and interventions to scale up the adoption of climate smart agriculture to help deliver on the triple wins of raising agricultural productivity, increasing adaptation and resilience to climate change, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Government should rigorously and transparently evaluate all major policies and initiatives aimed at boosting agricultural development, including agricultural finance schemes, ensuring that they provide an enabling environment to crowd in private investment.”
In their contributions the rapporteurs, Professor Oluwarotimi Tayo and Engineer Jimi Omoliki, corroborated the lecturer’s position but called for urgent action to put Nigeria on the path of agricultural development as major economic base.
The President of the club, Olumakinde Oni, in his speech said charged members of the club to “establish a solid economic foundation for the club.”