By Adikwu, Samuel Ebo
Agricultural Sector remains the bedrock of development of the nation inspite of the superiority of the Oil Sector in its contribution to the economy, the roles of agriculture to economic rejuvenation cannot be neglected.
Agricultural production which refers to the process of producing crops and/or rearing of animals has been playing a tremendous role in socio – economic development of the nation.
The various ways of its contribution to the economy includes;
– provision of food for ever growing population
– It provides the greatest avenue for employment
– It provides Foreign earning from plantation crops, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, cashew etc.
– It provides raw material for domestic industries
– It generates income to those that are involved in the profession and provision of market for industrial goods.
The process of these contribution can be through crop / or livestock production. However, in any case or form it takes, these noble goals of economic development are not easily achieved due to numerous impending factors.
Nigeria, though blessed with abundant arable land and a population which is primarily agrarian still lags behind in its ability to grow enough food to meet the needs of its expanding population.
Nigeria, the largest country in Africa is being threaten with serious food crisis as the populace could not afford basic staple food on their dining table. These has resulted into widespread of menaces and infested crime society.
You should agree with me that most of the social debris and heinous crimes perpetuated in our society nowadays is because of hunger, starvation and penury. So many persons could engage in one form of societal malady or unwholesome vices just to have food on their table.
Food crisis, poverty, corruption and all odds of unscrupulous activities co-exist in the same tent. Food crisis also has effects on health institutions as there is no form of drug absorption in human system without adequate food intake.
That is why most drugs prescribed to patients also goes with the instructions or advise to be taken after food. As a result of food shortage, the mortality rate of anemia and malnutrition especially in infants is colossal.
Anemia has become an endemic disease in Nigeria especially in the North eastern part of the Country. Food and nutrition is a critical capstone for the proper growth and development of infants. Some ailments like ulcerative colitis abdominal pains become excruciating due to low feeding. Every creation needs food for sustenance.
The basis physiological needs of human are food, clothing and shelter according to Abraham Maslow theory of needs. Subsequently, food production should not be kept in a vehicle that moves on a slow lane.
The passive state of agriculture today or the inability of the country to feed its population is mostly due to lack of substantial capital (human and material) channel effectively to agricultural sector. It could also be as a result of basic training, skills and knowledge of improved production on the parts of peasants which constitute 80% of agricultural production.
The deplorable state of rural populace which lack basic amenities like portable water, comprehensive primary health care system and inaccessible roads also makes crop production in the rural area highly unattractive.
Poor storage facilities, inefficient post-harvest management, crude implements used for tillage, ineffective extension services, professional stigmatization, unpertub attitude of political leaders and untimely implementation of agricultural policies has all compounded the tragic news in agricultural sector. Nigeria agricultural sector is now in comatose and being managed in an intensive care unit (ICU).
Over the years, several juicy and laudable policy like Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), Green Resolution was formulated, but in spite of all efforts geared towards the effectiveness and sustainability of these policies to have impact on the economy, the programme still went down the drain.
My assumption could be traced to the fact that oil sector was the ladder on which the government used to climb and meet up most of her economic goals. Then it was really the great-days of oil boom. Now it’s the dawn of the new era, oil boom is now oil doom and the country is facing economic recession with famine and hardship as lifejacket.
It’s no longer debatable that Nigeria needs other sources of revenue to cushion the effect of oil deficit; the rejected stone (Agriculture) by the builders has to be on the corner stone. Nigeria has decided to refocus, re-strategies and take a giant stride towards diversification of sources of revenue and their search light is beaming on agriculture and solid minerals.
The patriot saddle with the responsibility of spinning agricultural sector to greater height is a dynamic leader, Chief Innocent Audu Ogbeh, the Hon. Minister of Agriculture and rural development.
A fearless tactician, steadfast in policy making and determined to achieve good results at all times. Unarguably, he is a doyen administrator, an incorruptible leader with good conscience that we can look unto when it matters to us as individuals and the nation.
That is why he is being given this herculean task at this critical time to harness the unstapled resources in agriculture to the peak that will cushion the effects of failing oil sector.
I read with keen interest on the pages of newspaper and watched my television with gusto the new road map of the Federal government on agriculture tagged “Green alternative” and I said here they go again. Unequivocally, the road map seems promising, unblemished and impeccably formulated but how feasible is the implementation?
Rhetorically, I asked, with this policy can Nigeria economy downturn be efficiently revamp? Can unemployment, poverty, hunger, food crisis and squalor experienced now be addressed? Can the country boost of revenue from agriculture which can significantly cushion the effects of oil falls? These are challenges and questions in the womb of time.
My solemn take home on this policy is this; for effective attainment of “The Green Alternative”, the 774 local governments in the country has to be involved and fully committed. Every local government in the country must be tasked to produce something. The department of Agriculture in the local government council must have a farm. The Head of Department (HOD) of Agriculture, the agric staff in the local government and the local government caretaker or chairman must be a stakeholder to the farm.
Department of Agriculture in every state should also coordinate the sector and make sure every state must have a farm. There should be agriculture show to showcase production and stir competition from wards, local government and state. The six geo-political zones must have a food processing industry which is strictly owned and manage by government just like we have NNPC.
There must be a comprehensive rural transformation which is the engine room or hub in food production process and clashes between Fulani herdsmen and crop production farmers must be addressed. Every local government must have good access road to the state capital to ease food transportations. Crops shouldn’t be produce and heaped in the farm due to in accessibility. Agriculture should no longer be left in the hands of peasants individual or private sectors.
Let government has mechanized farms that will employ youths.
Agriculture production is a practical course therefore no more rooms for moribund resources.
Every sector must be tasked to produce something and it must be a holistic collaboration of all and sundry to revamp our nation out of starvation and economic doldrums.
With these in place and all hands on deck with sense of commitment and dedication “The Green Alternative” can make meaningful impact.
Adikwu, Samuel Ebo
Public Affairs Analyst
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