agriculture_01

Food Security: Green Revolution To The Rescue

| Leave a comment

Recent report revealed that about 70 per cent of over N500bn raised from the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee in June came from the non-oil sector. This was revealed by the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Tunde Fowler. According to Fowler, who is also the Chairman, Joint Tax Board, was quoted as saying, “Of the sum, 70 per cent came from non-oil sources while only 30 per cent came from oil sources. It was the first time in 2016 that the Federal Government shared over N500bn among the three tiers of government during the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting”.

Nigeria’s agricultural potentials put Nigeria in a position to feed the world, but this is not tapped. There have been reforms by successive Nigerian governments for increased agricultural productivity but most of them could not achieve much. Since the early 1970s to date, there has been a steep drop in agricultural production correlating roughly with the rise in federal revenues from petroleum extraction.

Whereas previously Nigeria had been the world’s lead exporter of cocoa, production of this cash crop dropped by 43% between 1972 and 1983, while productivity in other important income generators like rubber (29%), groundnuts (64%), cotton (65%), and palm oil (50%) all dropped by those percentages. These margins of the country’s exportation of these agricultural produces should have been doubled in the 2000s if successive Nigerian governments did not relegate agriculture.

The global price for crude oil has fallen over and over again, and this development has in so many ways than one caused heartaches for many developing economies, whose economic livewire is tied to accruable revenue from oil. Being one of such economies, Nigeria is now faced with the dire challenge of surviving the tumultuous onslaught on her already ailing economy with the future looking quite unfriendly, if nothing drastic is done to cushion the effect. Already, the federal government is being put to task to seek alternative means of financing the economy.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, says Nigeria needs a seed industry revolution to close the supply-demand gap of about 231,000 metric tonnes. Chief Ogbeh spoke recently at the workshop on developing a rapid action plan for quality seed production and presentation of the alliance for a seed industry in West Africa. “The estimated annual seed demand in Nigeria for 2016 is about 350,000 metric tonnes for rice, maize and sorghum with an approximate seed industry value of N112bn ($564m),” he noted. He said the 2015 annual seed production was about 122,000 metric tonnes valued at N43bn ($216m), which translates into a supply-demand gap of about 231,000 MT valued at N81bn ($409m).

According to the minister the current gap was being filled through massive use of low quality seeds such as farmers’ saved seeds and those supplied by unscrupulous seed merchants, adding that concrete steps must be taken to tame the situation. Ogbeh said the ministry had set the time limit to achieve self-sufficiency in staple crops production.

“Our target is achieving self-sufficiency within the next 36 months in rice, sorghum, maize, millet, soya beans and wheat. We shall mobilize and engage the active participation of state governments, the youth, women and other key stakeholders to attain this feat with the cultivation of additional two million hectares of land yielding two crops a year,” he said. Participants at the workshop called on the government to strengthen research and development institutes and the private sector to create a more vibrant seed industry in the country. The development is heart-warming.

In what seem like a support towards the agricultural revolution, the Niger government has urged farmers in the state to embrace the Federal Government/CBN Anchor Borrowers Scheme to boost rice and wheat production in the country. Governor Sani Bello of Niger made the call in Minna when he received a delegation of traditional leaders, who paid him Sallah homage. He explained that the scheme is funded with N220 billion and disbursed through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development with single digit interest rate.

Bello said that farmers are expected to grow crops such as rice and wheat to advance their status from small holder farmers to commercial or large growers. “We have for long depended on crude oil which has resulted to the challenges the country is facing today. We neglected the abundant resources we are blessed with. Similarly, the Governor recently entered into a partnership with the Lagos State Government on the development of agricultural commodity value chain which is aimed at ensuring food security and job creation for the two States and the country at large. The partnership was said to be directed at considerably boosting the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of not just the two States, but the country. Governor Bello said the discussion basically centered on how to explore the comparative advantage of the two States to the benefit of Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari has also reiterated that the nation’s Agricultural revolution drive is no longer a matter of speculation but of urgent necessity. The President stated this at an audience with Ambassador Nasser Bourita a special envoy of King Mohammed VI of Morocco. President Buhari approved the Moroccan proposal, and said that it would “improve food security and create jobs for the unemployed youth.” OCP fertilizer factory is a Moroccan company that produces fertilizers. They recently released a line of products that focus on high performance and agricultural sustainability.

Furthermore, with the news that made in Nigeria Rice from Niger, Kebbi and Enugu state is about to hit the market at a relative cheap price of 7,000, it is just a matter of time that the general price of the product will crash down.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation reported that about 852 million people were estimated to be undernourished in 2010 — 2012 and face the risk of food insecurity. More than 70 per cent of this estimate resides in sub-Saharan Africa in which Nigeria is the most populous country among others. For Nigeria to adequately feed her ever increasing teeming population, innovations in agriculture must be given a priority in quick successions. No wonder there has been clamour from different angles for an improved seed quality for the farmers to ensure agriculture.

It is also cheering news that the United States Agency for International Development says it has earmarked $2m to support the Nigerian government’s effort to develop the agricultural sector. It added that it would partner local agribusinesses – Babban Gona and Hello Tractor – to assist farmers in accessing smart tractors and improved seeds. The US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Mrs. Maria Brewer stated that the two-year partnership was also aimed at ensuring profitable markets for over 45,000 farmers in seven states across the federation

The Green Revolution programme in Nigeria was a major agricultural policy of the Shehu Shagari administration and the Fourth National Development Plan. It was kick-started in the early 1980 with the immediate disbursement of N18.3m as specific funds for the improvement of food, livestock and fish production which was intended as a programme to ensure self-sufficiency in food production and to introduce modern technology into the Nigerian agricultural sector largely through the use of modern inputs such as high yielding varieties of seeds, fertilizers and tractors.

  — Mutiu wrote in from Wuye District Abuja

comments powered by Disqus

Daily Columns