In order to solve the looming food crisis in Nigeria, the Federal Government must, as a matter of urgency, design a programme of sustainable and corruption free subsidy for farmers, encourage youth participation in agriculture, fund research institutes and implement strategic sustainable policies, projects and programs.
These were the recommendations of Professor Taiwo Amos, while delivering the 95th inaugural lecture of the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA. Amos who spoke on the topic ‘Agricultural Production and Productivity: The Game Changing Food Security Paradigm in Nigeria” said subsidies to farmers to help them overcome their poor ability to obtain credits or take risks is now the way to go.
He said such subsidies must be tracked and sustained to ensure that it is directed to enhance output and get to practicing farmers only thus eliminating all forms of sharp practices. Professor Amos disclosed that poor funding has contributed in no small measure to the abysmal performance of the agricultural sector in Nigeria. He said government should also create a nexus that would lead to the application and commercialization of research findings for the development of agriculture for national development.
The Professor of Production Economics, who is also the Dean of FUTA’s School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology, also described encouragement of youth participation in agriculture as vital for realizing increasing growth in Agricultural productivity and food security goals.
He said findings have shown that majority of current farmers would be too old for farming in the next two decades. He said government through experts should come up with incentive packages that would make youths return to farming as a profession that is sustainable. He said the grooming of a successor generation of farmers who take agriculture as business and profitable profession has become imperative. He said without such a succession plan, the country food production index will continue to decline.
Amos said over the years the sustainable strategy for raising agricultural productivity with the view to accelerating a holistic economic growth, reduce poverty and improve food security has eluded most developing countries including Nigeria.
He stated that the nexus between production, productivity and food security is the fact that without increased productivity, food security is not guaranteed and without production, productivity does not exist.
According to him, food security promotes national security and drives the economy through provision of food and employment for the population, raw materials for industries and earning foreign exchange for the development of the industrial sector which are vital to the development of the country.
Making a comparative analysis between Nigeria and the emerging economies of the BRICS nations (Britain, Russia, India, China, South Africa,) the lecturer disclosed that these nations witnessed the transformation from a traditional system of production characterized by poor adoption of contemporary technologies to becoming global agricultural leaders as a result of investment in science and technology, implementation of public policies and continuous increase in annual agricultural yield.
He said Nigeria should follow their template. He said since Maize has become an International cereal like Rice and Wheat, Nigeria should redouble efforts to produce it in all the agro-ecological zones of the country while intensifying research and developmental initiatives to make the country become the World leading maize producer.
On the way forward, Professor Amos proposed that the government must address the issue of corruption where funds meant for projects have been misappropriated leading to the non-implementation of the project as well as the lack of willpower of the past administrations in sustaining policies in Nigeria.
He said the agricultural sector has suffered heavily from such pitfalls. The Don called for the adoption of new agronomic practices and harnessing of natural resource management technologies for actualizing the food security drive in the country. He said the Agricultural Transformation Agenda could be reengineered for better performance.
Nigeria he said “needs to embrace new agricultural technologies to increase its food production outputs and agricultural and farmers productivity for enhanced food security status.” He said raising agricultural production and productivity will make Nigeria join the rank of countries that can feed their population with a lot to spare for export.
He advised that the country should work assiduously to achieve food security in order to enable her escape the pangs of menace of hunger which is predicted to increase by 20 per cent by 2050
Speaking in his capacity as the chairman of the occasion, the Vice Chancellor Professor Joseph Fuwape commended Professor Amos for the cerebral delivery of the lecture.
He described the lecture as timely as a country that cannot feed itself is prone to all forms of dangers and untoward development.
He described Amos as an astute administrator and an erudite scholar who had provided academic leadership for his colleagues and mentor many young protégés.