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THE TIME FOR INCREASED FOOD PRODUCTION IN NIGERIA

Before her independence and Up to the 1980s Nigeria was well known for agricultural and consumer goods productions. Although her agriculture was predominantly subsistence but there was more than enough for local consumption, as a reasonable quantity of food crops and raw materials were exported. The oil boom of the 1970s only increased foreign exchange earnings in humongous proportion. Unfortunately the excess wealth was neither invested nor reasonably utilized. The high economic prospects of Nigeria especially in the 1970s and 1980s attracted several multi national corporations which then were competing among themselves to establish in Nigeria as the country was producing enough food and raw materials for local consumption, which ensured food security, poverty reduction, adequate employment, rural development and huge internal and external revenue generation. The governments then clearly understood the nexus between massive food production, raw materials/cash crops production and economic stability and sustained same in their policy thrusts and Actions. However since the late 1990s politics and its attractions distracted everyone including the Government and interest in Agriculture dwindled. Nigeria no longer produces adequately to feed her population and sustain the raw materials need of the industries operating at home at a time her population tripled the 1960s figure. Unfortunately most of those manufacturing multinational corporations that have become synonyms with Nigeria and Nigerians have suddenly relocated to even smaller countries where operating conditions are friendly. The practice in recent years is the struggle to fill the low production gap with importation of everything ranging from food items and raw materials through industrial machineries and office equipment to paper and even tooth picks. The scale of importation made Nigeria a dumping ground for other countries and consequently dried up the enormous foreign exchange earnings from oil. To the extent that the one’s super oil rich country has become a debtor nation that regularly borrows to fund her annual budgets. All these are the consequences of the neglect of Agriculture in general and lack of increased food production in particular.

Time has come to give the deserved attention back to Agriculture and encourage increased food production if anything to salvage the starving Population.No country in the world makes meaningful progress or indeed moves to the next level without food security.That is why all the developed and developing countries subsidize Agriculture to encourage their farmers to remain in this most important occupation.Farmers in France recently embarked on several days protests until the government granted their demands for additional assistance.
The persistent food inflation of 37% in Nigeria is unprecedented and the worst in 28yrs.That it continues to defy all the measures so far simply reinforce the need for massive food production.This can be achieved by full implementation of appropriate policies and programs as well as ensuring their successful results.

In this regard Government should clearly identify all categories of genuine farmers producing all kinds of food items in the Poultry, Acqua culture, Crops, livestock, vegetables and greens etc. as well as the feed millers and encourage them with necessary inputs and assistance to reduce their cost of production. It is obvious that most Nigerian Farmers are struggling with their businesses but frustrated by many factors and conditions which are pushing up their costs which only the government can solve. Nigerians are famished and need affordable food to bear the crushing hardships. The 2024 farming season has started. It is a time to activate full scale farming for increased food production. Let the government give incentives and other forms of assistance to the real farmers. The State Government in liaison with the LGAs can also establish a demonstration or special farm in each LGA for the cultivation of a particular food crop which the area has a comparative advantage this planting season. Again Let there be policies and programs to attract even non Farmers to take interest in food production in Nigeria.

Innocent Igwe.

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