A don, Professor Edet Udoh, has sought the enhancement of production capacities and welfare of peasant farmers in Nigeria as measure to increase food productivity and reduce poverty in the country.
Udoh, who observed that food production has been abandoned by the elephant-like members of society for a few ant-like peasant farmers, however, suggested the need for conscious attention to be paid the few willing peasant farmers to enable them earn a comfortable living from their labour
Presenting the 59th inaugural lecture of the University of Uyo on the theme: “Ants Bearing the Burden of Elephants: The Paradox”, the professor considered food sufficiency in a depressed economy as the best alternative to oil and gas dominated economy.
He described ants as a metaphor for generality of the few peasant farmers who bear the burden of majority members of society, but remained resilient surviving recession in the economy.
Using socio-economic variables, Udoh enumerated activities of peasant farmers who produced food to feed giants and suggested cooperative agriculture, sound agrobusiness model, market driven input supply programmes as well as increase in budgetary allocation to agriculture as means to keep the “ants” alive so that the burden of the “elephants” would not weigh them down.
Udoh, who is also the chairman Steering Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency in Akwa Ibom, observed that food crisis in Nigeria dated back to 1905 and might continue to 2025, as Nigeria was confronted with problem of food importation such as rice, chicken and palm oil, warning that there would be supply deficit except peasant farmers neglected by government were supported through incentive programmes.
He explained many factors that restrict farmers to include price fluctuation, climate change, land allocation and warned that unless these issues were addressed, Nigeria would continue to grapple with the burden of food insufficiency.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the vice chancellor of University of Uyo Prof. Enefiok Essien (SAN), noted that university inaugural lectures provide an opportunity for professors to showcase what they did in research work to justify their academic mantle.
Essien maintained that the inaugural lecture was necessary in the University community as its separate “Men” from “boys” in the academic environment and reminded other professors who have not presented their inaugural lecture to take their turn while commending Professor Edet Udoh for the choice of his topic “Ants Bearing the Burden of Elephants: The paradox” as he concluded that life is full of paradox.
He said: “I appreciate Prof. Edet Udoh for the choice of topic for this inaugural lecture which I know will add value to the society”.
In his citation to present the inaugural lecture, Dr. Aniekan Brown of department of sociology and Anthropology remarked that the birth of Prof. Edet Udoh in 1971 marked the beginning of academic renaissance in the family chronicled several academic achievements of Prof. Edet Udoh in the University Community and wider society.
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