• Saturday, June 22, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

How Nigerian government can avert Ukraine-Russia induced food shortage

Owing to the surge in prices of major grains induced by the Ukraine-Russia war, calls have been heightened on the Federal Government to incentivize wheat and grain farmers to boost local production.

Recall that the flour millers in the country, including Aliko Dangote, the president of Dangote Group, expressed fear of food scarcity as a result of supply shortfall in grains such as wheat, corn and barley, as well as on fertilisers- urea and potash, owing to ongoing Ukraine-Russia war, which experts said, would cause serious food scarcity in few months if alternatives were not found.

Speaking at 1st Olatunde Abudu Annual Lecture organised by the Egba Science Education Foundation to celebrate the Egba-born industrialist, Olatunde Abudu at 93rd in Abeokuta, Olawasina Olabanji, Associate Professor of Agronomy at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), declared that it is high time the federal government rolled out urgent, but sustainable agricultural programmes to avert imminent food crisis.

Olabanji, who confirmed that Nigeria lands are more arable and nourished than many farm lands in many countries of the world, revealed that lack of modern technologies and dependence on rain-fed farming are the main problems of agricultural practice, investment and production in the country, and Nigeria must as a matter of urgency, diversified and rolled out incentives for farmers to cushion effects of food scarcity.

While giving examples of wheat and rice farming being supported by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olabanji explained that dearth of effective mechanisation in farming, harvest and processing of farm produce; poor irrigation system and lack of high-yielding seeds, fertilisers and other farm solutions, are seriously affecting the Agricultural Practice and Agribusiness in the Country.

He, however, called on the government to dialogue with investors and farmers to find lasting solutions for imminent food scarcity through sustainably massive investments in agriculture, agribusiness, storage, processing and entire value chain development through imports substitution, extension services, value addition, among other interventions.

He said, “You can’t practice commercial farming with rain-fed water, there must be an irrigation system, it brings a sort of controlled Agricultural system that is why we must continue to thank Obasanjo, his Administration created Water Basins Authority for irrigation.

Read also: Digitisation key to unlocking modern retail in Nigeria – CEO FoodCo

“Modern Agriculture is a changing approach to Agricultural innovations and farming practices that help farmers increase productivity, efficiency and reduce the amount of natural resources needed to meet the world’s foods, fuel and fibre demands. The most serious constraint facing crop production in Nigeria today is lack of suitable farm equipment; notable are tractors, seed planters and combine harvesters.

“Cereals (wheat and rice) consumption in Nigeria is bound to increase due to growing population, especially in urban cities and the current cereals scarcity due to ongoing Ukraine-Russia war, from their present import levels of $4 billion and $2 billion respectively, between now and 2050, if not checked and alternatives were not found in form of imports substitution, there might much more food crisis.”

Meanwhile, Dapo Abiodun, governor of Ogun State has said that the state government had begun changing the narrative in the Agricultural sector through the engagement of 20,000 youths and women for cassava, rice and cotton farming and deliberate support for livestock production among the youths, thereby increasing the production of farm produce and raw materials for domestic and industrial consumptions.

Abiodun, who represented by his chief of staff, Shuaib Salisu, noted that Ogun in conjunction with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bank of Industry (BoI), had stimulated cassava, rice, cotton and livestock farming, using the youths and women to reduce rising Nigeria imports bill, create jobs and wealth for the State and the Country, at large.