By Jimoh Abdullahi
In August, 2019 President Muhammad Buhari ordered the closure of Benin Republic border in order to encourage domestic production of rice and to curtail smuggling, yet the attempt was dismal as people did not buy their local rice that is full of chaffs as a result of unavailability technological machines to perfect it. Meanwhile, government needs to increase the allocation of the sector for prosperity.
For any other things to be considered FOOD must come first because it serves as a saviour from the hand of number one enemies__ Hunger and Malnutrition. And this food in question is a product of Agriculture.
However, the state of Agriculture in Nigeria that is believed to be a live wire is not appealing. And its problem descends from the top. It all started from the 1970’s during the foray of Nigeria’s oil exploration business when Nigeria detoured from Agriculture. Agricultural economy that accounted for 85% of the Nigeria foreign exchange earnings 90% of employment generation and 80% of the Nation’s Gross Domestic product (GDP) in the 1960’s according to the (Central Bank of Nigeria CBN: 2016) when Nigeria was one the world’s largest producer and exporter of Palm oil, Cocoa, Ground nut, Cotton, Coffee, Rubber, Hide& skin and so on.
It is no longer genuine that Nigeria is endowed with 79 million hectares of vast arable land, 267.7 billion m3 of water for irrigation and 57.9 billion m3 of underground water etc. With all these useful resources the posture of the government towards Agriculture is frustrating. Take from the 2022’s 1.8% budget for Agricultural sector which is the highest in four years. In 2017 it was 1.70% in 2018; 2.00%; 2019; 1.56%; 2020; 1.34%; 2021; 1. 37%. And all these allocations still fall to 1% of Maputo Declaration of 10% on July, 2003 held in Mozambique under Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), eighteen years back to this time. A reasonable ratio for Agriculture since the advent of democracy in 1999 could be traced back to the tenure of President Umar Musa Yar’adua, which were 5.41%; 2008; 5.38% in 2009.
Despite the fact that, 60-70% of Nigerian population engaged in Agriculture yet, the figures of people practicing farming recently have reduced drastically due to a number of factors ranging from the incessant Farmer-Herders clashes, insecurity; the ugly incidence of November 28, 2020 in Maiduguri, Zabarmari where about 78 rice farmers were killed by the Boko-Haram terrorists is a case in point. Low profit and shortage, many small scale farmers that manage to opt for farming do not get necessary aids from the government in terms of unsubsidized fertilizers, seeds, herbicides and the likes they buy as crop farmers. Conspicuously, outdated tools are still in use to carry out the toiling task of Agriculture in Nigeria in this 21st century and that particularly scare people especially the youthful graduates from going into Agricultural business where success resides. Majority of them see Agriculture as a task of uncultured people thus, they are finding what is not lost in Cybercrimes, Kidnapping, Robbery and all other filthy jobs as a result of unemployment. Norwegian country makes use of high-tech food production systems with wide spread fast-paced digitalisation. The country has developed different autonomous robots that can carry out varieties of tasks on a farm field. For instance, the country has an autonomous weeding robots that can reduce the use of herbicide by 95%. It is the first country in the world that has ever produced virtual fencing system for grazing animal. Find my, in turn offers a tracking collars that use global positioning system (GPS) so, farmers can monitor livestock on their smartphones. All those attract young people to agricultural business.
Nigeria, being a country with the largest population in Africa, has been projected by the census bureau of United States that Nigerian population would reach 379.25 million by 2047 and surpass that of United States of America (USA) . United Nations also forecasts that, the overall population of Nigeria would reach about 401.31 million by the end of 2050 and if the current figure continues, it would go up to over 790.7 million by 2100. That means there is fire on the mountain for Nigeria due to the rapid growing population if Nigeria do not want the current food insecurity to exacerbate there is a need for more people to participate in Agriculture.
Recently, Nigeria’s unemployment rate is pegged at 33.3 % as against the previous 27.1% that shows that youths which take almost half of the country population are yet to know a number of benefits in Agriculture many students that were offered it as a course of study feel somehow and it is observed that, Agriculture as course gets the lowest candidates in jamb and this unveils the attitude of the young people towards it. Agricultural science has a diverse fields and unlike other professions. It has a sub-fields like crops farming, fish farming (Aquaculture) poultry farming and so on, any area can be chosen depending on someone’s area of interest. Apart from the food benefit that is derived from it. It also maximize profits and serve as a self-employment. In the 60’s Agriculture covered 95%of the country’s food needs.
The only way that can make the young people find Agriculture interesting is through modernisation where technological appliances will be used to carry out the toilsome aspect of it as practice in Norway. And private individuals and Non-government Organisations (NGO’s) have a role to play, via organising a seminar on Agriculture so as to orientate the young people and other practicing farmers.
What makes Nigerian Agriculture on the run and yet to move contains a lot of factors. And these factors are as a results of government appalling posture towards it.This is actually what makes it seems that all government’s initiatives and policies are not working. In August, 2019 President Muhammad Buhari ordered the closure of Benin Republic border in order to encourage domestic production of rice and to curtail smuggling, yet the attempt was dismal as people did not buy their local rice that is full of chaffs as a result of unavailability technological machines to perfect it. Meanwhile, government needs to increase the allocation of the sector for prosperity.
The challenges of lack of advanced technological instruments are what various technological universities with the support of the government should bear its responsibility.
Jimoh Abdullahi writes from the University of Ilorin
He can be reached via__07063087705