All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has said, contrary to prediction of famine in Nigeria in first quarter of 2017, there would be hike in cost of food items instead.
The Chairman, AFAN Lagos State chapter, Otunba Femi Oke, who made this disclosure, said it is not possible to have famine because many people are currently into agriculture, adding that with the current intervention funding, coupled with what farmers are accessing, it is not possible for Nigeria to experience food shortage.
Oke revealed that an average of 500 trucks loaded with grains legally or illegally leave Nigeria for neighbouring countries daily through the nation’s land border which could lead to shortage of food and the price of grains rising by 75 or 100 per cent next year, as many Nigerians, including corporate bodies, embraced farming this year.
He further called on the federal government to assist farmers in providing the necessary equipment to make their work smooth.
He said: “We want the Federal Government to assist us in the area of mechanised farming by providing bulldozers for land preparation, especially in the SouthWest region, because farmers are finding it very difficult to have smooth operations in their various farms. Tractors cannot even go into the farms except they use bulldozers because of bad roads. We want help in the area of anchor borrower programme; we still want the Federal Government to sensitise the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and other agencies to come to our aid.”
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, said in a YouTube message that Nigeria has huge harvest of rice and massive harvest of millet, but under pressure from neighbouring states.
He said: “We find now that people are coming from Algeria, Chad to load food from our markets. An average of 500 trucks is loaded per day. It is taking away the stock, which we need to survive for next year. We have to start buying up grains to store because if the rains finish in January, February to March before the next planting season, you may find Nigeria very hungry.”
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Universal Quest Limited, Sotonye Anga, said the issue is a reality that has both negative and positive sides, explaining that the negative side is that right now, Nigeria has not grown enough food to meet the demand of its local consumption.
As a result of that, he said if government does not checkmate what is available, Nigerians are going to face famine.
He added: “On the other hand, farmers need a robust market for their products. Every opportunity to ship out products within Africa is a welcome development. We should produce enough food to meet our local demand as well as our export demand. When we do this, we are going to generate a lot of revenue locally and also a lot of foreign exchange.
“So when you combine the local funding with foreign exchange that is generated, it will improve all economic indices and put us in a better shape because we need market to service and the bigger the market we have to service, the better. In a time of huge unemployment, we’ve got to channel our massive youth resource to the farm, to grow more food because there is demand for food and this demand will continue to increase within Nigeria and across Africa, and of course, in Europe and other places. So we should realise and understand Nigeria is a gift to the world and to this generation.
“He said there is need to inject proper funding so that researchers can develop better seeds, adding that government needs to revamp Nigeria’s agricultural mechanism and infrastructure irrespective of political divide for the interest of Nigerians and to unlock more funding and investment into agriculture.
“Nigeria as a country needs to really rethink of entire agriculture mechanism so that at the end of the day, the country will be the winner and will be richer and better for it. People will have more employment and we will be food-secure. At this moment, agricultural lending is still very high and access to credit is still very difficult. We need to put every resource on ground and jack up our production and when we do this, the market is huge across Africa within West Africa, East Africa and South Africa and when you go away from Africa, you talk about Asia, Europe and other places.”