Emergency on food security and the way forward, By Agbaji Chinedu

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...Emergency on food security and the way forward

Food security is an important issue because it refers to the ability of individuals, communities, and countries to access sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and preferences for an active and healthy life.

When people lack food security, they may experience hunger, malnutrition, and other negative health outcomes. Food security is also closely linked to economic, social, and environmental sustainability, as well as to political stability and national security. Ensuring food security is therefore critical for achieving sustainable developmental goals, reducing poverty and hunger, and promoting overall human well-being. It encompasses the availability, accessibility, utilization, and stability of food within a population.

Food security is a complex issue influenced by various factors, including agricultural productivity, climate change, natural disasters, political stability, poverty, income inequality, and access to resources such as land, water, finances and technology. Achieving food security is crucial for eradicating hunger, reducing malnutrition, and promoting sustainable development in a nation. The major actor in food security is the farmer who is directly involved with other actors. He is the king and should not be neglected.  

The declaration of emergency on food security in Nigeria by Mr. President is an action over do, but having the political will to do that is a plus to him. We cannot shy away from the fallouts of different programs in the past, their merits and demerits. The past survives into the present and the future is the modification of the present. A modification of past programs in Agricultural business is the way forward to food security in Nigeria.
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The Agricultural business sector of Nigeria Economy is vital to economic diversification. Agribusiness which include all the business actions within the Agricultural value chains such as input supplies, production, harvesting, packaging and processing, warehousing, transportation and distribution, marketing, exporting, consulting and extension services has the potential to build an economy that can generate inclusive growth, create jobs, food security and availability, shrink poverty, if policies within the sector are reformed to be farmers friendly not for the elites. As a result will boost private sector driven Agricultural business from input supplies, production through off taking system (credit facility), post harvest management (warehousing, processing, packaging and distribution), this will guarantee food security in Nigeria.

Agriculture has been a major source of livelihood for Nigerians for centuries, and it continues to be an important sector of the Nigerian economy. According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics growth, agriculture contributes about 22% of Nigeria’s GDP and employs over 40% of the country’s population. This shows that with reforms we can do better.

Agricultural business is rural based; the jobs created from the statistic are about 95% rural domiciled. Agricultural business has the potential to be a powerful tool for driving rural growth and development. By promoting agricultural entrepreneurship and providing direct support for farmers and agribusinesses, rural communities can develop sustainable economic opportunities that create jobs, generate income and improve livelihoods. When our rural areas are aggressively developing through the development of Agricultural value chains, such as processing and packaging, warehousing, distribution, export and marketing, then the economy can be sustained, it will combat unplanned rural urban migration which been a big challenge in the recent time in Nigeria and  standard of living in rural communities will be improved. Those developments come alive when federal and state government takes the major and most critical aspect of farming activities which is land preparation. 

In the centre of all these is the Nigerian smallholder farmer who is faced with different challenges daily as a result of policies summersault of the federal government and lack of political will of the states government to redefine farming profession. 

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One of the challenges facing Nigerian farmers is the lack of access to modern farming techniques, technologies, and equipment. Many farmers in Nigeria still use traditional farming methods that are labor-intensive and produce low yields. This limits their ability to compete with other farmers in the global market because of quality and standard of the output and limits their earning potential.

Another challenge facing Nigerian farmers is the lack of access to credit and financing. Many farmers in Nigeria are small-scale farmers who do not have the financial resources to invest in their farms and improve their yields. This limits their ability to expand their operations and take advantage of new opportunities.

To address these challenges, the Nigerian government has launched various initiatives aimed at supporting farmers and promoting agriculture in the country. For example, the government has launched the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) and the Anchor Borrowers Program, which provide farmers with access to credit, training, and modern farming technologies. But they failed especially the Anchor borrower program which was designed to favour the banks, input supplies and political and portfolio farmer not real farmers who are in the rural area.

To get it right for food security, farming should not be done in the offices but in the farms. Farmers should be part of policy formations through their national bodies. They know the challenges and the way out and should be carried along for us to get it right. For instance, the best credit scheme is to facilitate farming and farming related activities is making farm lands available for farmers to farm. I mean prepared land.

This credit scheme model is a system where by federal and state deploy funds in land preparation in partnership with the local communities who are land owners and who see farming a noble profession, for farmers to farm. Farmers especially the small holders farmers will come together to farm in clusters as a result off takers will take care of the micro credit facility to facilitate the crop production they want to off take, there will availabilities of modern farming implements, Agro processing company will step in to establish primary processing plants which will generate jobs and revenue in the state.

For instance, If the state go into partnership with communities on land accusation for farming on a good mutual sharing formula to clear and prepare about 1,000,000 hectares of land in the state and shared among the commodities associations, you will see off takers coming in to take responsibilities of supplying farm input and credit facilities that will facilitate the farming, with QR Code traceability card farmers/farms can be traced through GPS, as a result will eliminate sharp practice in the system both from the government side or from the public sector, the outcome will be food availability and affordability.

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Federal government responsibility should not be on input provisions and subsidizing it but subsidizing output so that real farmers will feel the impact of government in the prevailing economic situation. When you farm then you will enjoy subsidy through government guarantee price.   

Finally, until Agricultural business becomes an inclusive business where both farmers, community, private organization and government drives our food security guarantee will not be attainable and urbanization devoid of industrialization will continue as a result will affect our economic growth and sustainability which is rooted on our ability to satisfy the want of our people and the demand of international market.  

Agbaji Chinedu Writes from Abuja. 08035004617, learnder@gmail.com