NIGERIA, A RE-EMERGING GREEN LAND
BY: GBEMISOLA IBRAHIM (COHS,UNILORIN)
What thought comes to mind when we hear the word “agriculture”? A small farm with a cutlass, hoe, rake and hopefully a spade and an aged man planting a maize crop somewhere, God knows where? No! Agriculture transcends planting crops, toiling with bent backs under the scorching sun to weed and harvest as portrayed in Nollywood movies.
What they don’t tell us is that agriculture is a lucrative
business composed of five specialized branches which, of course, has various subclasses. They are: agronomy, horticulture, agricultural engineering, agricultural economics and animal science. Life sustaining, It should be regarded as an act of
Nigeria, the most populous African country, has an agricultural sector which employs 70% of the nation’s working population contributing about 22% to the country’s GDP.
The next question is why more entrepreneurs and unemployed
don’t harness this goldmine as much? The strife for fancy white collar jobs by most Nigerians is a contributory factor to prolonged relegation of agriculture. It is stereotypically perceived to be a job for the low class, illiterates, aged and rural people. However big the financial size and projections of any industry, it is never
completely absolved of its risks and challenges. As demanding and burdensome as these problems are, the charge lies on us, not limited to any, to mine agriculture adequately and conservatively to meet daily needs, to eliminate hunger and
potential food insecurity, restore its glory as an inexhaustible revenue source and consequently, attaining SDG 2.
Lack of adequate information and exposure is the root of problems encountered
by most Nigerian farmers most especially those in the rural areas. Most of these farmers are experienced and they need adequate information to boost their work. They are not properly informed about new farming methods, new technological devices to carry out their farming activities for the general need of the nation. Also, these farmers are not financially stable. Some don’t even know
there are microfinance banks where they can save and accept loans. Those who are lucky to know about this are not too happy about the turnout due to varying government policies. Some banks do not want to give out loans due to the associated risks involve.
As regards to government policies, government should make conscious efforts to remove bottleneck in the land acquisition process , make access to fertilizers supply chain easier and pocket friendly. Most of these farmers use a particular plot of land to grow different crops and plants interchangeably leading to wearing
out of the soil. Hence, the need for fertilizers to boost their crop yield.
The interconnectivity of transportation and agriculture can’t be over emphasized.
Asides being a problem in itself, it poses a great disadvantage especially to rural farmers. Farmers have to transport their farm products to remote areas of which some of these roads are really bad. Some of these products take days before they
get to the areas where they are needed. Hence, chasing buyers away and even worse, selling the goods at a very cheap price that is lesser than the cost of production and manpower. Again, one of the reasons why banks are scared to
give loans to farmers.
Farmers should also be provided with adequate storage facilities. Most of these farm products are seasonal so they need to be stored until it’s time for them to be sold. All these should be catered for to avoid food
wastage and post-harvest loss.
To incentivize agropreneurs and encourage aspiring agropreneurs, the government, private institution and other major stakeholders should create initiatives that serve as
platform to educate them on emerging farming, harvesting, preservation and packaging practices and give them grants to start or develop and give them reasons why they should be in the agricultural sector.
Proper representation of agriculture by media platforms is necessary and sanctioning measure should be put in place for its regulation. Agro based contests and exhibitions should also be put in place to encourage already budding agriculturists.
We shouldn’t just keep reading about
all these without putting it to action because to fully unlock the potential to make Nigerian food secured we have to do things the right way. This will take a very long time to be fully effective because nothing good comes easy.
We the youth are the future of agriculture, the power to turn Nigeria into a leading exporter of food and a power house for food production which lies in our hand. We want
Nigeria, our great nation, the giant of Africa an agriculturally industrialized
economy to create job, wealth and market for farmers, ensure food security and revive the rural economy.
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