Food scarcity: S/W stakeholders call for increased agric funding, farmers’ security

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Nigerians in the South-West region have emphasised the need for increased agricultural funding and farmers’ security to boost farm produce cultivation and reduce food prices.

The respondents aired their views to improve the agricultural sector and boost food production in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Tuesday.

They advised state governments to reduce the high cost of food items by sponsoring farmers in their various states to explore the opportunities of acquired lands and sustained farm settlements.

According to them, governors in the South-West have much to do in their various states to boost national agricultural development.

National growth LS

Mr Mustapha Badmus, advised state governments to invest in large-scale farming on acquired lands, farm settlements and virgin lands, especially along the Ibadan-Lagos expressway.

Badmus said, “With the blessing of arable land we have in the South-West, the states could put such lands to use to boost agricultural development and address food crises.

“Our farm settlements and farm extensions should be revived.

“Farm extension workers are not supposed to be in the office as their work is on the farm and in the rural areas, not in the secretariat.

“Although state governors roll out loans and bailouts to farmers, they should ensure the funds reach the actual farmers and not the so-called farmers who collect without utilising such loans for farming,” he said.

Badmus said if South-West governors would follow the late Obafemi Awolowo’s footprints on agriculture, there would be no need to rely on northern farmers to bring agriculture and foodstuff down south.

He said if the state government would invest in agricultural production, subsistence farming as practised by the elderly in the villages, would be abolished.

“Accessibility and availability of tractors in our local government councils will also boost food surplus,” he said.

A farmer, Mr Sylvester Ramon, said the prices of seeds, chemicals and items used in weeding are now on the high side, thus contributing to the high cost of food.

“The prices of chemicals used for weeding to prevent crops from being eaten by insects and weevils are too costly in the market.

“This will also contribute to what farmers will add up before selling their farm produce, which would surely affect the prices of food items.

“Transportation of farm produce from farm to the market also contributes to the high cost of farm produce, as the Nigerian economy depends on petrol and diesel.

“A transporter will add the cost of fuelling his truck to what he will collect for transporting a farmer’s foodstuff to the market,” he said.

Another farmer, Mr Sunday Ogunjobi, says security matters take up about 80 per cent of the causes of food prices skyrocketing.

Ogunjobi said, “The crisis between farmers and herders, being taken with levity is majorly hounding everyone.

“Herders are also part of the problems; farmers lose majorly to them and there is no proper justice; this and others chase farmers from the farms.

“In some states like Oyo and Benue, Anti-open Grazing Laws have been put in place by state governors, although not being implemented.

“In Ibarapa, Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State, herders have been alleged to cut off farmers’ hands and wrists, killing farmers or even burning farms after encroaching with their animals.

“Thus, those who have fathers, uncles, brothers, and families in the villages keep leaving the farms, relocating to urban areas to start riding commercial motorcycles,” Ogunjobi said.

Another resident of Ibadan, Mrs Modina Adekunle, says the hike in food prices is unbearable to many Nigerians.

Adekunle implored state governors to involve local government chairmen in grading rural roads to facilitate easy access to farm produce and the markets.

Meanwhile, a Director in the Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Emmanuel Adekunle, says Gov. Seyi Makinde’s administration is committed to agricultural development toward making food production sufficient across the state.

According to him, the state government has invested much in the sector in the past five years through viable and sustainable intervention programmes.

Adekunle explained that the Makinde-led administration recently transformed the long-neglected Fasola Farms into a thriving industrial hub, now known as the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub.

He said that revitalising the hub had not only restored the farm’s productivity, it also created numerous job opportunities and stimulated local economies.

According to the director, private investors now invest significantly in animal husbandry at the hub.

“The cutting-edge cattle breed initiative at Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub is poised, not only to supply high-quality cattle for commercial use but also to produce large quantities of premium processed milk, once fully operational.

“Also, cassava, maize and other crops are being cultivated in hundreds of hectares at the hub.

“This innovative venture is set to revolutionise the agricultural industry in the region, leveraging technology to drive growth and sustainability,” he said

Adekunle further said the government, having recognised the importance of smallholder farmers in the state, distributed quality seeds and seedlings to 10,000 smallholder farmers.

This, he said, would ensure that farmers have access to the best planting materials for improved crop yields and food production.

“In addition, the government distributed herbicides and other farm tools to farmers across the state.

“These tools are essential for modern farming practices, helping farmers manage their crops more efficiently and increase productivity.

“Equally, the government provided 2,600 poultry farmers with 50kg bags of maize to alleviate feed costs, ensuring the sustainability and growth of poultry farming, which is a key component of the state’s agricultural output.

“Also, in order to promote a diverse agricultural sector, support has been extended to 1,000 fish farmers, cattle breeders, and piggery farmers.

“This comprehensive approach ensures that various agricultural sub-sectors receive the necessary backing to thrive while contributing to a balanced and resilient agricultural economy,” he said.

The director further revealed that Makinde’s administration had commenced the construction of 1,000 kilometres of rural farm roads, courtesy of the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP).

He said this would aid farming and the movement of farm produce from rural areas to the city centres.

He also disclosed that the government had subsidised tractorisation for farmers by 50 per cent.

On security, Adekunle said the state government had taken steps to end the security challenges, especially in the agrarian parts of the state, such as Oke-Ogun, Ibarapa, Ogbomoso and Oyo geopolitical zones.

Some of the steps, he said, include the deployment of local vigilantes and the state Amotekun Corps to the agrarian communities to work hand-in-hand with the conventional security agencies.

Meanwhile, a financial expert, Mr Samson Olalere, queried the Nigerian leadership for neglecting actions that should have been undertaken in the agricultural sector before now.

According to him, security neglect, leading to the festering of the activities of Boko Haram and banditry, drove many farmers away from their farms.

“Hence the reduction in food production and activities in the agricultural sector of the economy. This has led to food scarcity and a rise in prices of the little available food items.

“The ever dependence on food importation was also affected by the shortage of foreign exchange, which affected all other sectors of the economy adversely,” he said.

Olalere proposed the way out by urging the government to pay more attention to security and the fight against banditry, kidnapping and other social menace bedevilling the nation.

“It is expedient that our government stops paying lip service to the development of the agricultural sector in order to improve food production.

“There is the need for mechanisation of the agriculture sector rather than the hoe and cutlass system being used.

He said the solution was not in advocating for border opening for the importation of items, but in encouraging local production.

“The foreign exchange constraints do not encourage importation of food items or other luxurious items,” Olalere said.

Nigerians in the South-West region have emphasised the need for increased agricultural funding and farmers’ security to boost farm produce cultivation and reduce food prices.

The respondents aired their views to improve the agricultural sector and boost food production in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Tuesday.

They advised state governments to reduce the high cost of food items by sponsoring farmers in their various states to explore the opportunities of acquired lands and sustained farm settlements.

According to them, governors in the South-West have much to do in their various states to boost national agricultural development.

Mr Mustapha Badmus, advised state governments to invest in large-scale farming on acquired lands, farm settlements and virgin lands, especially along the Ibadan-Lagos expressway.

Badmus said, “With the blessing of arable land we have in the South-West, the states could put such lands to use to boost agricultural development and address food crises.

“Our farm settlements and farm extensions should be revived.

“Farm extension workers are not supposed to be in the office as their work is on the farm and in the rural areas, not in the secretariat.

“Although state governors roll out loans and bailouts to farmers, they should ensure the funds reach the actual farmers and not the so-called farmers who collect without utilising such loans for farming,” he said.

Badmus said if South-West governors would follow the late Obafemi Awolowo’s footprints on agriculture, there would be no need to rely on northern farmers to bring agriculture and foodstuff down south.

He said if the state government would invest in agricultural production, subsistence farming as practised by the elderly in the villages, would be abolished.

“Accessibility and availability of tractors in our local government councils will also boost food surplus,” he said.

A farmer, Mr Sylvester Ramon, said the prices of seeds, chemicals and items used in weeding are now on the high side, thus contributing to the high cost of food.

“The prices of chemicals used for weeding to prevent crops from being eaten by insects and weevils are too costly in the market.

“This will also contribute to what farmers will add up before selling their farm produce, which would surely affect the prices of food items.

“Transportation of farm produce from farm to the market also contributes to the high cost of farm produce, as the Nigerian economy depends on petrol and diesel.

“A transporter will add the cost of fuelling his truck to what he will collect for transporting a farmer’s foodstuff to the market,” he said.

Another farmer, Mr Sunday Ogunjobi, says security matters take up about 80 per cent of the causes of food prices skyrocketing.

Ogunjobi said, “The crisis between farmers and herders, being taken with levity is majorly hounding everyone.

“Herders are also part of the problems; farmers lose majorly to them and there is no proper justice; this and others chase farmers from the farms.

“In some states like Oyo and Benue, Anti-open Grazing Laws have been put in place by state governors, although not being implemented.

“In Ibarapa, Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State, herders have been alleged to cut off farmers’ hands and wrists, killing farmers or even burning farms after encroaching with their animals.

“Thus, those who have fathers, uncles, brothers, and families in the villages keep leaving the farms, relocating to urban areas to start riding commercial motorcycles,” Ogunjobi said.

Another resident of Ibadan, Mrs Modina Adekunle, says the hike in food prices is unbearable to many Nigerians.

Adekunle implored state governors to involve local government chairmen in grading rural roads to facilitate easy access to farm produce and the markets.

Meanwhile, a Director in the Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Emmanuel Adekunle, says Gov. Seyi Makinde’s administration is committed to agricultural development toward making food production sufficient across the state.

According to him, the state government has invested much in the sector in the past five years through viable and sustainable intervention programmes.

Adekunle explained that the Makinde-led administration recently transformed the long-neglected Fasola Farms into a thriving industrial hub, now known as the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub.

He said that revitalising the hub had not only restored the farm’s productivity, it also created numerous job opportunities and stimulated local economies.

According to the director, private investors now invest significantly in animal husbandry at the hub.

“The cutting-edge cattle breed initiative at Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub is poised, not only to supply high-quality cattle for commercial use but also to produce large quantities of premium processed milk, once fully operational.

“Also, cassava, maize and other crops are being cultivated in hundreds of hectares at the hub.

“This innovative venture is set to revolutionise the agricultural industry in the region, leveraging technology to drive growth and sustainability,” he said

Adekunle further said the government, having recognised the importance of smallholder farmers in the state, distributed quality seeds and seedlings to 10,000 smallholder farmers.

This, he said, would ensure that farmers have access to the best planting materials for improved crop yields and food production.

“In addition, the government distributed herbicides and other farm tools to farmers across the state.

“These tools are essential for modern farming practices, helping farmers manage their crops more efficiently and increase productivity.

“Equally, the government provided 2,600 poultry farmers with 50kg bags of maize to alleviate feed costs, ensuring the sustainability and growth of poultry farming, which is a key component of the state’s agricultural output.

“Also, in order to promote a diverse agricultural sector, support has been extended to 1,000 fish farmers, cattle breeders, and piggery farmers.

“This comprehensive approach ensures that various agricultural sub-sectors receive the necessary backing to thrive while contributing to a balanced and resilient agricultural economy,” he said.

The director further revealed that Makinde’s administration had commenced the construction of 1,000 kilometres of rural farm roads, courtesy of the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP).

He said this would aid farming and the movement of farm produce from rural areas to the city centres.

He also disclosed that the government had subsidised tractorisation for farmers by 50 per cent.

On security, Adekunle said the state government had taken steps to end the security challenges, especially in the agrarian parts of the state, such as Oke-Ogun, Ibarapa, Ogbomoso and Oyo geopolitical zones.

Some of the steps, he said, include the deployment of local vigilantes and the state Amotekun Corps to the agrarian communities to work hand-in-hand with the conventional security agencies.

Meanwhile, a financial expert, Mr Samson Olalere, queried the Nigerian leadership for neglecting actions that should have been undertaken in the agricultural sector before now.

According to him, security neglect, leading to the festering of the activities of Boko Haram and banditry, drove many farmers away from their farms.

“Hence the reduction in food production and activities in the agricultural sector of the economy. This has led to food scarcity and a rise in prices of the little available food items.

“The ever dependence on food importation was also affected by the shortage of foreign exchange, which affected all other sectors of the economy adversely,” he said.

Olalere proposed the way out by urging the government to pay more attention to security and the fight against banditry, kidnapping and other social menace bedevilling the nation.

“It is expedient that our government stops paying lip service to the development of the agricultural sector in order to improve food production.

“There is the need for mechanisation of the agriculture sector rather than the hoe and cutlass system being used.

He said the solution was not in advocating for border opening for the importation of items, but in encouraging local production.

“The foreign exchange constraints do not encourage importation of food items or other luxurious items,” Olalere said.

By Reporters

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