ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – The agricultural target contained in the manifesto of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), to make food production surpass the population growth rate has elicited optimism from farmers despite ignoring some critical issues.
The plan paid no attention to the issue of conflicts that have caused production shortfall in recent years and did not address other subsectors, value addition, and investments in research that are critical to attaining food security, generating employment, and boosting export earnings.
Also, the plan for the sector did not include nutrition despite the presence of the highest burden of malnutrition in Africa and the second highest globally in the country, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.
Ibrahim Kabiru, national president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, said he is optimistic that the policy could be a game-changer for the country’s food system if well implemented.
However, he said pertinent issues such as insecurity, and low use of mechanisation that has limited production in recent years were not addressed by the plan.
“I believe this is a well-thought plan for the sector and if well implemented, it could be the real game-changer for our food system,” said Kabiru.
Folorunsho Olayemi, lead consultant and chief executive officer of Sammorf Agro-Consult Limited, said the plan to build on the current administration’s programme for the sector is a welcome development but lessons from their initiatives should be learnt for better performance.
Olayemi said the plan paid attention only to the supply side without looking at the demand side.
“Tinubu’s agenda on agriculture should not only aim at satisfying consumption levels alone but should be geared towards agribusiness,” he said.
“It should be able to address import substitution properly. It should address nutritional issues as much of the promoted foods are stapled, which does not address diet fulfilment,” he said.
He added that the target of the plan cannot scale production if research input is not considered, calling Tinubu and his team to review the document for the sector.
Africa’s most populous country has never been short of attempted measures to attain food security.
Sundiata Post recalls thst successive governments have pushed forth several agricultural intervention programmes and policies in the quest for food sufficiency, but many have yielded little or no result, making them fall short of expectations.
Most policies and programmes have constantly focused more on supporting farmers with finance – which has been marred with a high rate of corruption rather than addressing lingering issues that have limited productivity for decades and driving industrialisation through the sector.
Nigeria’s food system today faces enormous challenges that make it difficult to provide affordable and nutritious food to the majority of the population.
According to experts, the plan can only be different from others if it is fully and well implemented by people appointed on merit and not politics, and that it must be amended to include other critical issues.
“We have been given too many promises by politicians in the past that have all failed. Any document now must be technical enough to be given consideration,” Olayemi said.
Abiodun Olorundenro, operations manager of Aquashoots Nigeria, said the manifesto of the APC addresses 60 percent of the immediate challenges of the country’s agricultural sector.
He called for an update of the document to become comprehensive enough to address critical issues limiting production to achieve its set target.
“I like the fact that the plan did not promise to do the impossible as most previous plans do,” Olorundenro said. “It is a document that encourages private investments.” (BusinessDay)