Prices of food items have now become astronomical with consumers having to part with more funds in order to have them. This has depleted consumers’ purchasing power as they are unable to buy products to satisfy their demands. The arbitrary hike is extended to virtually all products ranging from yams, beans, rice, and millet to maize.
The astronomical price is also visible with regard to commodities such as vegetables and fruits of all kinds as well as drinks, biscuits and bread. With the depletion of the purchasing power of a rising number of the citizens, some and, in some instances, all food items may have disappeared from the dining tables of some families. Such less privileged individuals are now among the battalion of dependents constantly seeking humanitarian intervention from benefactors such as religious institutions, corporate bodies, philanthropists and non-governmental organisations.
It is a sad commentary that Nigeria, which prides itself as the Giant of Africa, could be in a state of mess as to be unable to make food items available to her citizens at pocketfriendly rates. It is true that collaboration is preached and encouraged but each nation should know that the preservation of its sovereignty is tied to her ability to depend less on foreign countries especially with regard to food availability.
Regrettably, Nigeria is in this classification. Her food imports are huge and exert pressure on the nation’s foreign reserves to the point of avoidable suffocation. Little or nothing is left for the execution of vital developmental programmes. We consider it a bitter pill to swallow that a nation which, as an epitome of agriculture in the past, produced enough food for the consumption of her citizens could slide down to the status of becoming a parasite. This is a scorecard of ignominy. It is also an expression of limited foresight of the governing class, which is largely responsible for the food shortage in Nigeria.
Research, which is vigorously invested in by most countries of the First and Second World, is unattractive and considered a no-go area by the political class in Nigeria. Rather than give incentives to university scholars to be neckdeep involved in research, funds are, instead, channelled into the paying of juicy salaries and the sustenance of the official perks of the political office-holders.
It is true that weather conditions and other natural occurrences could, and have indeed, adversely affected food production in Nigeria. New Telegraph is happy that many schemes were put in place by the Colonial and post-Colonial Governments to help respond to the problems of agricultural production, worsened by drought, flood and other natural occurrences.
One of the schemes was construction of irrigation facilities and dams in designated locations. The irrigation facilities made it possible for food production to be sustained especially in droughtprone areas while dams helped a great deal in moderating the destructive tendencies of large pools of water likely to undermine food production.
We also acknowledge the other schemes put in place over the years to help respond to the rising demand of food by Nigerians. They included the National Accelerated Food Production Programme of 1973, the Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) of 1976 and the Green Revolution of 1980. Others are the First, Second, Third and Fourth National Development Plans of 1962 to 1968, 1970 to 1974, 1975 to 1980, and 1981to 1985 respectively. Though the four National Development Plans were broad, they also addressed concerns in the agricultural sector.
Though the Federal Government (FG) has promulgated additional schemes to help sustain the momentum on massive food production, unfortunately, the schemes seem not to have delivered the promise of abundant food supply, as illustrated by a disturbing level of food importation from abroad. Avoidable politicisation of some agricultural schemes could be cited as one of the reasons for the shortfall in food supply.
It has been observed that some of the geo-political zones where President Muhammadu Buhari appeared to have harvested minimal electoral capital in 2015 and 2019 General Elections were excluded or given insignificant consideration in the execution of the FG’s agricultural schemes financed with public funds from the vault of the apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Another major disservice to the different sectors of the economy including agriculture is insecurity. The menace of insecurity has made it difficult for uninterrupted socio-economic activities to be realisable in all the sectors of the economy including agriculture. Persons are killed and injured at the drop of a pin.
Those who escaped being killed get abducted with ransom running into millions of naira being demanded and paid before their eventual release. New Telegraph enjoins the FG to end its perceived unseriousness in tackling some of the country’s problems including the current food crisis, as it constitutes a huge threat to the sovereignty of Nigeria. The fight against insecurity requires a greater level of sincerity and transparency from all stakeholders.