The President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr
Kabir Ibrahim, in this interview with Ruth Tene Natsa, assures
that Nigeria will not experience food scarcity in 2016, but rather is on its way to self sufficiency in
2016 and Nigerian farmers With what I have seen on the
pronouncements the budget is ready to fund, there is every
hope for Nigerian farmers, the only thing is that the farmer must treat what he does as a business to be able to harness what he
does, because I do not think anybody will get anything on a platter of gold, nobody is going
to spoon feed you, because you are a farmer.
So I will encourage
the government to at least be sure that whatever is earmarked in the budged is expended for what it is targeting.
Unlike before when you will say the budget is 27%, once the budget is not fully expended, all these
things will not come into play. So they must implement this budget first and foremost and apply the resources judiciously wherever
they ought to be and get very honest people, because if you remove corruption from the
implementation of the budget, the Nigerian farmer will smile.
WILL THERE BE FOOD SCARCITY IN 2016?
Those are just pessimists speaking; the rains in some part of Nigeria were late in coming but were also enough for the products that are normally produced in Nigeria. Rather than
hunger, I believe there will be enough food and prosperity for the nation.
Also the privilege of
indirectly importing food used as staples is no longer tenable, such as corn , before a tonne from Brazil cost about 300 dollars, today in Nigeria, a tonne is not even up to 200 dollars, so it is not profitable to import from Brazil anymore, so Nigeria is on its way to being self sufficient.
Some people are agitating for the
devaluation of the Naira; it is not tenable and realistic, because if you produce your food locally and can not buy from foreign
lands, then you will make do with what you have. In the 60s,
Nigeria produced all its food locally, the culture of consuming
what you do not produce is what leads to high foreign exchange, it is people who want to import
luxury items or go to Dubai on holiday that want the devaluation
of the naira and I believe the dignity of Nigerians is to
consume what we produce locally.
Your take on GES
Truth is as President of AFAN, we will never involve in GES, in fact let me tell you what happened, most beneficiaries of the GES were party stalwarts and not farmers, as such the GES had no real impact.
GES would only be
beneficial to people if it is modified. For instance the FG said it had registered 14.5 million farmers, that is far from the farmers in this country, because the farmers in this country are more than 4 times that number, so if only 14.5 are registered and getting subsidise, then it has no real impact. In fact GES to me connotes subsistence farming, if there was any value GES added,
modifying it will add more value by making sure the actual farmers are giving the necessary
and needed inputs and not dole out hand outs, because if I have two hectares of land and I need
11-12 bags of fertilizers and you
give me two bags, you have not helped me.
Instead of that, do
system of crop intensification , by
teaching the farmers best practices, using what he/she has been using and it will enhance his/her productivity.
Small holder farmers and subsistence farming, No subsistence means poverty and it should not be encouraged,
a small holder can do farming that can help him and his family
and the small holder farmer is key driver to the agro economy.
When CADP came in 2009, they brought about 200b and
targeted only commercial farmers, all the money is gone,
has it improved anything in Nigeria?. So you cannot talk of
agriculture without looking at the small holder farmers and you have to create an enabling environment for the small holder to get out of subsistence farming and that is getting out of poverty, meaning whatever he plants, he harvest, stores and sells without it getting bad.
Help for farmers
Extension work should be digitalised, we cannot employ the requisite number of extension workers, but through digital
extension, farmers can be gathered in their communities
through the tv viewing centres or cinemas and be shown this is
happening in India and Ethiopia, but it is not happening in
Nigeria. I have reached out to some governments , if they key into it, they will cut a niche and
others will model after them.
State governors and agricultural
They have no choice, in fact it is a sine qua none for food security, if you do not feed the people, you will have skirmishes like you had in the North East, so every
governor in Nigeria should pay attention to agriculture, because that is saying good bye to poverty, it is a must and every
sensible person should know that.