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Open letter to Audu Ogbe the Executive Minister of Agriculture

Written By Idoma Television on Friday, January 29, 2016 | 6:56:00 AM

Reforming Agricultural system in Nigeria

By Sule Ngbede   Samuel

Agriculture is the foundation of every great nation. A nation that neglects agriculture has signed for hunger, poverty and joblessness. Nigeria is disabled because we ignored agriculture for so long a time; we are busy exploring and exploiting oil while we refused to mind our land. 

Our land is so ripe that a yonder blind could see but our mind is so blind to agriculture that it looks like an enemy. Our land is so rich that it can grow every thing but we are too carried away by oil that our fruits rot before harvest. We eat up fruit at the speed of scent but throw off its seed as if it smells. We blame our famine on fallen price of oil and power black-out but we are barren due to our negligence to agriculture.

The land is so green, we do say but the land has ever been green, its our mind that hasn’t been green. Let our mind be green towards farming, green with wisdom to generate ideas, green with wisdom to develop answers, green with wisdom to inspire change. We have more graduates in agriculture than time past but we had more farm produce in time past what an irony.

How can we ever rise when we yet import rice/? Can we ever be lucky as the turkey we import? We have become so saddened as the sardine we import. Even the developed world that introduced us to oil never neglected agriculture. Nigeria without oil was better with agriculture than the oil that came to steal our sense of value and have left us with pains and problems that we never bargain for.

Nigeria, the future of Africa shouldn’t loose touch of agriculture. Because of oil, we failed to think right. We all wish to be oil marketers, only few wish to cultivate our land. We all want to work in oil companies quitting our farms to become forest. If we all work for CHEVRON we may end up depending on other nations for food. If our youths wait for EXXONMOBIL, we may end up with more bills.

Egypt was a centre of attraction to the whole world during the time of PHAROAH and JOSEPH because they were wise enough to invest in agriculture. When money failed in Egypt due to famine, Egypt prevailed because agriculture never failed. Today, both oil and money are both failing in Nigeria but Nigeria is finding it difficult to survive because agriculture failed first. We purposely refused to give attention to agriculture and refusing to give attention to agriculture is signing for poverty, hunger and joblessness without knowing. See where our over dependence on oil have left us. Oil has robbed us of glory and honour.

Virtually all our schools offer curses in agriculture, but where are the proofs? We have agricultural ministries in all the 774 LGA and in all the 36 states of the federation including federal ministry of agriculture in FCT, Abuja, yet there is nothing to show for it. We have wondered away from solutions to more problems. In our budget, a lot of money is allocated annually without any visible change. The truth is doing the same thing over and over gain will bring the same result but doing an uncommon thing will bring uncommon result.

Sir, congratulations, God has put you in charge of the agriculture at a time such as this for posterity. You will be held responsible for all your actions and inactions. Do not go the way of your predecessors, only Adesina stands out among many that have held that position, and his name will not be forgotten in a hurry by Nigerians. You must be ready to give a new definition to agriculture in Nigeria if you want your name to be written with a golden pen. There should be something to hand over to your successor.

I would like to make the following suggestions:

  1. Nigeria is the most fruitful and conducive environment on earth for agriculture. Every state of Nigeria is endowed for one agricultural produce or the other. It is the responsibility of the government to find out the agricultural strength of each state and giving it a priority. Government need to get statistical information or data on the yielding capability and fertility of each LGA of the state and take advantage of it.
  2. Federal government should acquire plots of land in all the 774 LGA and be directly involved in farming. Monitoring farming from seed planting to harvest, taking into cognizance the annual return and consumption/export rate. The challenges of farming and how it can be handled should not be left out. Also, organize seminars and lectures to educate the general public on farming.
  3. Sir Isaac Newton said, “The prime of my inventions was between the ages of 18 to 25”. Nigeria has the best youth program in the world called the NYSC. We need to take advantage of their youthfulness and usefulness. I would like you to discuss with the director general of NYSC to mobilize 1/3 of the entire population of NYSC members to agricultural sector; teaching and training them on practical farming, posting them to federal government owned farms and after one year, we empower them individually or as a group depending on their abilities to set up their own farms and also continue to monitor their progresses.
  4. the government should stop giving out loans to politicians who are 419 farmers and rogues; business men and women who claimed to be farmers but in actual sense will use any money giving to them to import food into the country. Government should organize a program where interested farmers will submit proposals either as an individual farmer or cooperative and give out money to them based on their capabilities and also monitor their progresses and performances from cradle to harvest. Government should only give money to farmers with not less than two years of farming experience and within the two years, government must  been called upon by the farmers to inspect their farm during planting season and also carry out independent or impromptu visit to the farms before or during harvest. Any farmer/farmers who do not meet this condition are not eligible for loan from the federal government.
  5. Government should acquire modern technologies and best equipment that will aid farming and create a conducive atmosphere and environment that will encourage people to go into farming.
Nigeria arise, and conquer your disability, arise and manifest your production capability. Hunger and joblessness in the land is caused by lack of attention to farming, it can simply be solved by making agriculture our focus. The only time we need to change our predicament is now. Agriculture is a door from the past and a window into tomorrow; we should invest in agriculture today to walk from the life of failure. Focusing on agriculture today is the future of Nigeria coupled in right decision.

Thank you sir.

Tel - 08052592303

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