• Monday, July 22, 2024
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Southwest states roll out food production plans to halt food crises

South West governors

Governors in the southwestern region of Nigeria have mapped out food production programmes to help ameliorate the lingering high prices of food items, the Nation reports.

This decision steeply follows the directive of President Bola Tinubu who had given governors one week to come up with a realistic template on how they intend to boost food production in their states.

The food programme will see states focus attention more on the agricultural sector while prioritising staples such as rice, maize, cassava and poultry farming.

In addition, dams that have been abandoned are expected to be revitalised for irrigation.

High food prices have sent many Nigerians into hunger and unprecedented poverty as inflation continues to hammer their spending power.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said food inflation rose to 40.66 per cent in May, compared to the 24.82 per cent reported in the same month last year — indicating an increase of 15.84 percentage points.

The bureau said semovita, oatflake, yam flour prepackage, garri, bean, etc (which are under bread and cereals class), Irish potatoes, yam, water yam, etc (under potatoes, yam and other tubers class), contributed to the year-on-year increase in the food inflation rate.

Other contributors are palm oil, vegetable oil, etc (under oil and fat), stockfish, mudfish, crayfish, etc (under fish class), beef head, chicken-live, pork head, and bush meat (under meat class).

Agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy before the discovery of crude oil. From 1960 to 1969, the sector accounted for an average of 57.0% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and generated 64.5% of export earnings, a PwC report stated.

However, governors of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states operating under the aegis of Southwest Governors’ Forum have directed their agriculture commissioners to quickly build on the plan developed during their meeting in Ibadan in May.

The meeting, which was conveyed by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, provided the opportunity for the states to exchange ideas on how best to increase food production in the region.

Some strategies agreed on included clearing of large farmlands in preparation for planting, creation of farm units, strengthening of the security outfit, Amotekun, to provide security for farmers and their farms, and large-scale production of short-term crops, including maize, sweet potatoes, and vegetables.

They also agreed to revitalize moribund dams for irrigation, improve mechanization across the value chain, adopt a cluster farming model, expand input distribution, and establish an electronic agriculture database.

Each state agreed to support farmers to clear farmlands in cluster positions to the tune of 1,000 hectares each at the minimum, a source said.

The idea of cluster farming, which has the advantage of economy of scale, will also make it easier for Amotekun to secure the farms, ease off-taking of produce from farmers and eliminate middlemen, thereby ultimately reducing food prices.

According to the sources the states may concentrate on rice, maize, cassava and poultry farming to ease the pressure of food inflation.

According to the report, Ekiti State has already taken the lead by clearing many acres of land.

Oyo State is said to be offering farmers an incentive of clearing one acre of land free for one acre cleared by a farmer.

The states are also to strengthen and enforce anti-grazing laws to increase the confidence of farmers.

The governors are expected to submit their plan to the president who has indicated the willingness of the Federal Government to support the states in food production this week.