In accordance to the Christian Bible, when God established Adam and Eve, presumably the initially mom and dad of all humankind, he set them in a wonderful back garden of abundance, but when they sinned via the agency of the devil in the guise of a serpent, God condemned them and their descendants on close to a daily life of labour hence: “All your lifestyle you will sweat to create food items right up until your dying day.” The similar message was re-echoed in the ebook of Psalms: “By the labour of your arms you shall take in.” In the Epistles, Saint Paul advised his listeners unequivocally: “He who does not get the job done, allow him not eat.” Thereafter, many generations of persons in various cultures of the planet, Nigeria inclusive, have continued to extol the virtue of challenging get the job done, especially in the spot of exploiting the considerable riches of the earth by way of cultivating the land – agriculture.
Nigeria, no question, is an agriculturally-endowed country. Main financial historians of the previous and the current century, Nigerian as nicely as expatriate, agree that agriculture was the mainstay of the classic economies of the different peoples of Nigeria in the pre-colonial and colonial periods. Up to the early 1970s, agriculture accounted for very well about eighty percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Solution (GDP) and the big value of the country’s exports.
Then came the oil growth, and rather than develop up the agricultural sector with the zillions of petro-bucks accruing from the oil sector and remodel Nigeria the moment and for all into a meals-enough overall economy, the authorities of the working day frittered absent that chance and rather actively inspired the Nigerian populace to abandon agriculture and rely a single hundred p.c on crude oil. Nigeria hence grew to become a mono-merchandise economic climate. Petroleum grew to become the pivot close to which the country’s overall economy revolved such that any quake in that sector had adverse negative results on the whole overall economy. The then navy Head of State, Normal Yakubu Gowon, overcome by the enormous sums rolling into the govt coffers from crude oil, was reputed to have claimed that Nigeria’s difficulty was not money but how to spend it, and so he embarked on extravagant paying out on white elephant tasks which had small or no constructive demonstration impact on the financial state.
Soon after Gowon, succeeding governments appeared to have understood the faults of the previous and so produced attempts (even if fifty percent-hearted) aimed at redirecting Nigerians to the farms by initiating particular agricultural programmes this kind of as the River Basin Development Programme (RBDP), Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), Green Revolution (GR), the Directorate for Meals, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), the Improved Everyday living for Rural Dwellers Programme (BLRDP), among the other individuals. Particularly, OFN was launched towards the qualifications of alarming drop in agricultural production, galloping food items price ranges, expanding food stuff import bills, and accelerating flight of youth from the rural to the city regions. Regretably, it yielded no constructive end result other than that the enormous sums mapped out for it ended in non-public pockets. Its successor, Environmentally friendly Revolution, was also an abysmal failure and made increased complications than it arrived to address.
In buy to address the difficulties established by GR, the governing administration in electricity embarked on unparalleled importation of rice, wheat, and other foodstuff goods by way of a Presidential Task Pressure. Overnight, Nigeria, which applied to export foods to other international locations, became just one of the world’s finest importers of meals merchandise, and buyer merchandise topped the listing on Nigeria’s import data. That predicament has continued to worsen with the passage of time. A new report from US Wheat Associates Inc., a trade team for the world’s major exporter of wheat, states that Nigeria will soon displace Japan as the major customer of United States’ wheat. In accordance to the report, “The markets that are truly increasing are positioned in Africa. Nigeria’s per capita money is expanding and Nigerians are consuming extra food stuff and they are wanting for more Western-model food stuff products”.
Some twenty many years back, a programme was initiated to make Nigeria increase wheat in purchase to slice down on the excessive revenue spent on wheat importation. Yet again, for the duration of his tenure as Nigeria’s president, Olusegun Obasanjo attempted the same point with cassava, with the intention to make cassava flour a significant ingredient of Nigeria’s bread and thereby lessen the country’s reliance on imported wheat. But like other programmes just before them, these initiatives died virtually at the moment of conception. Currently, Nigeria spends more than 50 per cent of its cash flow on meals, in accordance to Dr. Vincent Akinyosoye, Statistician-Basic of the Federation and Head of the Nationwide Bureau of Studies.
The abandonment of agriculture had adverse distribute outcomes. As more and far more young persons ongoing to purchase higher instruction certificates and levels, they progressively noticed by themselves as folks who experienced no small business with agriculture. The rural-city drift, which began in the early days of colonial rule, continued irreversibly till the rural villages were denuded of their main function drive. Right now, there is serious starvation in the land, and a lot of Nigerians reside from hand to mouth. Food items scarcity continues to intensify by the working day as the cost of offered food stuff proceeds to sky-rocket. It has absent so terrible the ordinary Nigerian employee spends about eighty % of his regular monthly earnings on foods. The strategy of a few square meals has prolonged been dumped in many Nigerian families.
It is partly for this reason of starvation that practically nothing else seems to get the job done in the country. A great deal of the effort an normal Nigerian can make every day is channelled toward filling his empty stomach to start with. His major dilemma is foods, and right up until he receives it, he can’t feel of any other detail. Of course, it is only when a person has crammed his tummy and is not anxious about the place the following food will occur from that he can assume of how to shift his nation ahead.
This situation raises some severe issues: Why has Nigeria ongoing to import the bulk of its meals objects fifty yrs just after independence? Have all the farmlands in Nigeria disappeared? Are the lands no more time fertile? Are there no crops to plant? Or are Nigerians too lazy to cultivate the land? Is it the federal government or the people today that really should take the blame? Where just does the problem lie? What is the achievable way ahead? Sincere answers to these vital issues may perhaps support Nigeria to trace its way back and avert imminent food items disaster. It is indeed regrettable that Nigeria, with its superabundant human and product prosperity, continue to grapples with the basic dilemma of supplying food stuff for its citizens when all its friends are continually breaking new grounds in science and technological innovation.
When I was in Makurdi, Benue Point out, for the duration of the one calendar year compulsory national youth company, I was highly impressed that pretty much all people I achieved, specially college students, talked about their farms, and some actually took time to go to the village to cultivate and tend their farms. But irrespective of whether that is even now the observe right now is a matter for further analysis. A great deal might have changed thinking about that young children of right now experience ashamed to say that their moms and dads are farmers, not converse about they themselves. Farming has appear to be regarded as an occupation for paupers and never ever-do-wells, and youthful men and women in the towns who believe that they have become rich discourage their mother and father in the villages from partaking in farm function simply because they feel their moms and dads, obtaining given beginning to wealthy youngsters, have develop into also huge to be referred to as farmers.
In the current situation, Nigerians need to have no soothsayer to convey to them that there is imminent danger. As such, there is an urgent have to have for each Nigerian to return to the farm. Internal food stuff-sufficiency really should be the concern of every citizen, for to feed oneself is to feed the nation. Again, the governing administration need to acquire seriously the challenge of food provision, not by means of importation but by active support and encouragement to local farmers. If achievable, a point out of crisis really should be declared on the agricultural sector. It does not conclusion in which include agriculture in the 7-Issue Agenda. Pious pronouncements should really be backed up with constructive motion. Certainly, no country can go ahead the place far more than 50 % of the inhabitants are hungry. Furthermore, the will need for Nigeria to count significantly less on importation of food and perform towards inside food-sufficiency is not negotiable, for, in accordance to Prof Onwuka Njoku, exterior food dependency is the most pernicious variety of countrywide insecurity.