Shifting in policies, consumption patterns and behavior for positive agricultural and economic development of Nigeria and its people is the focus of discussion as academics, farmers and policy formulators brainstormed in Ilorin, Kwara State, on the challenges confronting agriculture and food security.
Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Dr Olufemi Oladunni, at the institute’s 21st annual lecture, policy change becomes inevitable if results from existing policies have been unsatisfactory.Such policy changes include forex management and controlling of smuggling through effective border management and control.
“What we have put up on the front burner this year is an invitation for all of us to do a collective review together. “We want us all to have a kind of looking back, see what we have done as regards agricultural policies over the years, see how we have fared on the journey, and consider what has been missing and what we may begin to consider doing differently as we move forward,” Dr Oladunni said.
He said using unproductive policies are counter-productive, time-wasting and irrational in a jet age. “No person, group or nation should continue to do exactly the same things as they have been doing while they expect change,” he said.
The annual lecture is one of the platforms through which the institute plays a leading role in the agricultural and rural sector of the nation.The executive director expressed satisfaction over the move of the Kwara State governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazak, to work with the institute on a strategic policy development for the agricultural blueprint and transformation of the state.
Professor Charles Arizechukwu Igwe, Vice Chancellor, University of Nigeria, Nsukka speaking on ‘Agricultural Policies in Nigeria: Unlocking Full Potentials by Identifying Challenges and Solutions’ at the lecture, identified a number of challenges that, he said, are surmountable if the government is serious about food security.
Igwe said low investment in agriculture and absence of market institutions; traditional practices and inappropriate technologies; policy framework; lack of political commitment; poor agricultural technologies and infrastructure deficit are some of the major obstacles in the food production and processing sector.
Other challenges that Igwe pointed out include finance and risk management; storage and processing difficulties; unstable input and output prices; increasingly scarce agricultural labour and inadequacies in past agricultural policies and programmes. To enhance agriculture going forward, the UNN administrator said the Federal Government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), should reform and align the financial sector to increase their lending to agriculture and agro-allied businesses.