Nigerians are groaning over the rising costs of food prices across the country, doubting if things will ever get better. As such, the need for the Nigerian government to intervene in ensuring food security cannot be over-emphasised. Fighting insecurity, especially in the north and tackling rising costs of service providers for farmers seem to be the order of the day.
“There is absolutely nothing that has not gone up in Nigeria. Just name it. Is it beans? The price of basket of beans has doubled within one year. The fact that we keep complaining, yet things don’t get better is depressing. I only look to God for help,” Mrs Esther Agwu laments.
The fact that Nigeria is blessed with abundance of food and farmers now have technology that can boost their produce, yet are not producing enough food for Nigerians, is what Mrs Tessy Onoriode cannot comprehend.
“Why are food prices going up on a daily basis? Government is pumping money into the agricultural sector, why is its intervention not yielding any results? What can government do differently? I truly need answers to these questions and I believe many Nigerians do,” Mrs Onoriode said.
The president, Agro Park Investors Association, Oluwafemi Abioye, in a chat, told me that every service provider around farmers have increased their cost, hence, farmers had to increase cost of produce to meet the high costs of the factors of production.
He said, “Cost of a new tractor has moved from N10 million to N18 million; the minimum cost per year for dependable foreign farm worker from Benin or Togo is N300, 000 per annum, excluding their transportation to Nigeria and feeding; cost of transporting farm produce had gone up astronomically and yet farmers would leave some of their produce to waste in their farms if cost of logistics outweigh the profit.
“The worst of it all is insecurity, which has led to less farmers going to farm, while the population keeps increasing.” Abioye further states that if the government can solve the problem of insecurity a lot of farms will spring up, leading to more production, more jobs for people and competition will force market’s price of produce to come down.
As a farmer, Abioye however appealed to government to fund commercial farmers directly, adding that, “Government needs to make several loans available and disburse the funds accordingly.”
“We have learned that some farmers would collect loans and then disappear. To tackle that, I recommend that farms or farmers should be registered under the Local Government Area (LGA), where they operate. That will curb overnight farmers who take loans and disappear,” he added.
If all these things are put in place, there is hope that food prices would reduce drastically, but government would need to act now to keep hope alive, Abioye said.