Foodie Naja Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (CHALLENGES OF REVERTING TO AGRICULTURE AS ECONOMY’S MAINSTAY )

Obviously, before the discovery
of crude oil in Nigeria,
Agriculture was the country’s
major source of revenue. But
with oil boom, successive
governments abandoned and
neglected the agricultural sector
completely. Even when
government policies on
agriculture are made
occasionally, they were often
characterised with flip-flops, lips
service, inconsistencies and
poor implementations.

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A bold attempt to revive
agriculture started in 1976
when the then military Head of
State, Major-General Olusegun
Obasanjo, launched Operation
Feed the Nation. But instead of
reforming it, his successor,
President Shehu Shagari, quickly
dumped it in preference of the
Green Revolution of 1980 that
ended in failure. Since then,
none of the agricultural policies
of the government survived its
initiator in office.

The trend continued unabated, with easy oil money being squandered with impunity by government officials and some privileged Nigerians, especially since the return of democratic
governance in 1999.

While revenue from crude oil
came in billions of dollars, it was
being spent extravagantly.
Agricultural sector,
infrastructures and other basic
needs of humanity that were to
grow the country’s economy
were virtually left unattended.
Eighty per cent of the country’s
consumables were imported,
while the local industries
suffered neglect.

With the sudden crash in the
price of crude oil in the
international market in June
2014, Nigeria with a mono-
economy became one of the
worst hit countries. Since then,
the Nigerian economy has been
in tatters. Not helping matters is
the delay in clear-cut economic
policies by the present
government, since it assumed
office.

Recently, the government came
up with a plan to revive
agriculture as the economic
mainstay of the country with
the Green Alternative Road Map.
The policy seeks to reduce
drastically Nigeria’s over-
dependency on imported food.
Its fundamental objectives
include stimulating agro-export
for foreign earnings and
achieving food self-sufficiency.

Among other goals, the
programme will boost
employment with 100,000
youths to be trained in
extension services, enhance
wealth creation and drive
economic diversification.
As good as this policy looks on
paper, it can only achieve the
desired objectives, if it is
implemented to the letter and
other numerous challenges
facing agricultural practice in
the country tackled adequately.

These glaring challenges include
the herdsmen attack, high
borrowing interest rate, poor
rural roads network,
importation of foreign food,
lack of agricultural research,
poor farm implements, poor
storage and processing facilities
and several others.

Nigerians who are into farming
business also expressed their
challenges, while suggesting
way that government can help
them key into the new
“agrarian revolution.”

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