• Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Food inflation: FG urged to revamp river basins to boost farming

Fighting food inflation: Need for short-term food imports

The Federal Government has been urged to revamp all the nation’s river basins to encourage all-year-round farming, increase production and curb food inflation in the country.

Olufemi Ajayi, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, Faculty of Agriculture, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, who made the call on Monday, bemoaned the abandonment of facilities at the river basins across the country, a development he noted has worked against Nigeria’s quest for food security.

Read also: Navigating Nigeria economic stability amid inflation: Striking the balance!

He said the government must re-invigorate the river basins to produce food all year round.

“It is the only way forward,” he said, just as he stressed the need for the government to also empower, train, register, and protect farmers.

“It is unfortunate that we had to wait till this time when people are now protesting because we have been raising this long before now that food crisis was looming.

“Food crisis is ahead of us; not just because of production alone but because we have relied too much on importation.

“Since we have relied too much on importation, now that the dollar has been liberalised, the cost of importing these foods will definitely go high, and the cost of producing within Nigeria will also go up,” he said.

He also urged the Federal Government to address insecurity around food-producing states as farmers were too scared to return to their farms.

“We are going into the wet season soon, many of the farmers are still scared, they are afraid and they can’t go near their farms.

“Insurgency is the beginning of our problems. The government should provide security for the farmers when they are assured that their lives and property are protected, their investments are secured, then they can gladly go onto the field and start all the processes of production,” he said.

On the issue of releasing crops from the grain reserves, the don said it was not the proper thing to do.

“Why do we have grain reserves? It is because of any eventualities like climate change problems, floods, challenges of insurgency that may cause relocation and dislocations and a lot more.

“That is why we keep grain reserves. We do not have production challenges that would have led us into consuming those grain reserves,” he said.

Read also: Inflation in Nigeria: Beyond the Numbers

Ajayi said releasing grains from the nation’s reserves would not address the present challenges unless measures were put in place to ensure the grains reached every household.

To address the nation’s rising food inflation, Ajayi said the Federal Government must adopt a holistic approach by engaging experts to proffer lasting solutions.

He, therefore, urged the government to engage stakeholders, researchers, investors, experts, and farmers to identify the problems of the agricultural sector and proffer solutions.

“There is no production on-going presently, how are we going to refill our grain reserves? Are we still going to resort to importation to refill it? What we are doing presently is like addressing the problem from the top; whereas we should look for the root of the problem, and it will be solved,” said Ajayi.