It’s always disheartened to see a child fully neglected in his father’s house, how heinous would it look like if a man fully jettisoned his first wife, one who stood firm in times of hardship, for a newly married angel. Just like how Agriculture has been neglected and jettisoned since of the discovery of oil.
We can’t compare an innate entity to a discovered one, the former is temporal and should not be dwell on fully no matter the effect or output. It should be used to develop the heritage. Oil should serve as a cushion to Agriculture, and not otherwise. The first never comes last.
Agriculture is presently facing a lot of setbacks in all ramifications that is why its effects have not been felt as expected. Agriculture should not be seen as an alien profession, rather it’s what we should all embrace and practice.
Currently, the biggest problem agriculture is facing is mechanization. Nigeria really needs to look inward on farm mechanization, it is high time we left cutlass and hoe for more sophisticated implements. We have human resources who are willing to practice agriculture but farm machinery is indeed a challenge.
Truly, health is wealth but it’s only a mechanized farmer that this expression favours. It takes less than one hour for a tractor to finish up one hectare but it takes over two (2) days for farm labourers to finish up one hectare, a task that after completion they need to use a large percentage of their income for medication, a task that cannot be done twice in a week. This indeed is setting us back. Truly, there are mechanized farms in Nigeria but why do we still suffer scarcity of food? Who do we still buy agric product at exorbitant and ridiculous prices? The reason is just that the supply from these farms is far lower than the demand owing to the huge population of our country.
However, there are small scale and aspiring farmers who are willing to contribute to the development of the agriculture sector but due to there poor input, there output is tremendously unaware, negligible, myopic. If these set of farmers are identified and put on their feet, there would be great improvement in agriculture. Let us all clamour for this, this is one of the ways government can rejuvenate this sector.
Another means to improve food security, being the aim of farmers, is provision of improved planting material for planting and quality animal feed. The job saddled upon the farmers is to provide food for the nation, farmers need improved seeds and quality feed to increase yield. To feed a nation the planting material must be of high quality just like other developing countries, its high time we got our acts together. Government interference is needed in this aspect, there should be free or highly subsidized quality planting materials and quality animal feed for our farmers.
Government should make policies that favour Agriculture, unfriendly policies kill Agriculture. Agriculture should always be seen as a factor in national decision making because it is the surest and most unique source of revenue for the nation and citizens. Oil might go on extinction so also natural minerals but agriculture cannot fade, we have all the primary resources, our large expanse of land, and human resources. Food is one of the basic necessities of existence, everything must be done to sustain it. Part of the policies is the tax, farmers tax should be meagre because they are serving the nation. Exorbitant tax folds up a business, no matter how profitable the business is. So also procurement of loan should be easy and simple. Loan should be an aid to business growth but not a deterrent to its growth. The requirements and conditions for procuring loan should be friendly and not harsh, the lending policy has to be friendly. There are farmers who are willing to expand their business but due to lack of favorable loan, they couldn’t explore their potentials. Government should look closely to the lending policy of loans to farmers, it should be a relief and easily accessible.
Another cogent point is updating the farmers’ knowledge through seminars and the likes. Truly we have agricultural extension agents but the fact is, they are passive. Their impacts are not felt within the farming community. Government should organize trainings for the farmers at least twice in a year, bringing in facilitators from farming communities abroad. Kenya is a base for cattle rearing especially diary farming. Nigeria is far from meeting the demand for dairy products, government should look closely to this.
Fruit crops like vegetables like pepper, tomatoes, onion, maize, cassava, yam, beans etc. And also animal products and by products should be prioritized and closely monitored. These are the common food for an average citizen, they should be available always and at affordable price to save the country from hunger. Government should provide good storage resources to prolong the shelf life of these produce. During the rainy season, when the medium and small scale farmers cultivate, there produce becomes surplus which some waste away due to lack of good storage facilities. Government should provide such facility to these farmers for them to safe keep their produce throughout the year. The implication of this is that, the price of any agriculture produce remains the same through the year. This is how a nation should be, the prices of all commodities should be regular. Its achievable through the intervention of Government. Government should focus on the small scale farmers and not the large ones. Government should empower the small scale farmers to reach the level of the large ones and not otherwise, this is how the agriculture sector can be developed.
Lastly, Government should ensure agriculture development projects are carried out as planned, there should be a measure to evaluate the project also a feedback platform where the beneficiaries of the project affirm the efficiency of the project.
Let’s revitalize Agriculture, it pays!