Historical Statement Of The Nigeria Food Crisis

Filed under: Agriculture |

Historical statement of the Nigeria food crisis


Nigeria as a country has just graduated since after independence into her 50s but cannot fend for its need as it pertains to food sufficiency. As far back as the 1940s, Nigeria was a giant in the global market, simply because of her exploitation of the vast agricultural potential. Men and women of both the Northern and Southern Nigeria were into farming on a commercial basis. The reason for this massive involvement in the food business was largely because it paid off. Government ensured that avenues were opened for a smooth operation, especially to support exportable cash produce from agriculture. The young man was inspired to grow groundnut in the North because he was sure the market was there for export and the modalities for this transaction was facilitated by the relevant government agencies and departments without prejudice. Cocoa, oil palm, kola and many other items thrived in plantations of both government and private entrepreneurs in the South. The business-inclined-merchants were not left out in the food chain, as they contributed their part too. They ensured that the farmers don’t go through the stress of managing their harvest. They ensured that warehouses and storage facilities were made readily available to assemble these produce and the farmer relived from this point onward.

The Government of Nigeria made its budget entirely on revenue derived from agriculture. Citizens enjoyed a higher standard of life generally, as the naira was competing with the English pounds. The discovery of oil in 1956 was more a curse than a blessing. Please your discretion on this stand point is entirely your opinion. With the advent of crude oil, there was a wild nostalgia across the length and breadth of the country that a resource with better potential is coming to replace the arduous one, agriculture. There was a gradual shift from the well known farm jobs to the white collar office jobs. This was where we began to deviate from the eating of balance diet, as the new job hob made us look neat and smart even afford us more money but, the money only made us buy the rarely common food of our choice at more price as opposed to what we were used to. Fruits, of all food which was almost as free as water in nature, began to attract little stipend from our pockets if we must have them for consumption.

The 1960s ushered independence for us from the British rule. This period was heralded with massive construction and development. Government wanted to ensure that structures were put in place to ease governance. Agencies, firms, organization were springing up here and there to provide services for the New Nigeria nation. This was a major distraction to agricultural activities. Young minds that still held to farming were tempted to leave their farms for the cities that were springing up with the glow of modernity. There was much advocacy during this period. Those who left the farms left for education and employment opportunities. The cities were revered as promise lands, where everyone can become great and respected. The rural community suffered exodus, as many wished their friends goodbye on a daily basis. Having more of political prospect for the country, our leaders opted for the option that could fund their agenda with less stress. This period witnessed a landslide shift to oil as a major economic earner for Nigeria. Agriculture began to receive rejection, by those who once survived on it, as the urban centre became the prime concentration of both government and business men. The rural regions where cloned the green area for the practice of farming with no attention given it by policy formulators.

Between 1970s and 80s the hot romance between military and civilian dispensation left Nigeria with an appetite focus on its political survival. This was the time of boom in the oil market and we were far off the coast, sailing in affluence which was circumventing around aspirations of political parties. Most of the government buildings, road networks, and institutions of learning were under construction. This was the period when experts in certain fields were exploiting the horizon of things. Nigerians were becoming ambitious in their chosen area of calling, many were ascribing for the services of experts. This brought a mentality that agriculture was a sector highly sustained by crudeness and unskilled labour. Even those who were in the field of farming were believed to lack the basic skill to sustain it. Discouragement from all quarters, made those even with the entrepreneurial acumen to drop their plans. Being a farmer made one a laughing stock amongst pairs. There was a viral mindset that was prevalent then, farming was likened to poverty. Farming became a strict pre-occupation of rural dwellers as those that dared it in cities were forced to back out so as to savage their dignity.

Nigeria regionalism becomes more pronounced in the 90s mainly because produce were sourced based on routes. This period had the greatest injection of middle men into the food business; internal supply and distribution required their services. These middlemen had the cash to locate these remote areas with little or no access roads and then got these produce into forms that could be transported to the urban centres, where their scarcity was the market. The farmers were constrained to sell to the merchants’ at peanuts, while these middle men gather the patches from different locations to a central point, from where they head bound for the cities where alarming prices are placed on the food items. This left the city dweller with no option other than to buy at outrageous rates. We saw a great change in the volume and quality of feeding in the cities; so as to cope with the cost of purchasing food. It became a culture, the mass movement to villages at festive seasons to take advantage of delicacies we’ve missed throughout the course of the year. Till date, it has been misrepresented as a trend without a real knowledge of the root cause. Urban dweller claims they eat less and accuse rural dwellers of gluttony. But experiences have unveiled this misrepresentation, when we travel back to the village we open up our appetite to eat more, while in cities we pretend we don’t have the appetite to eat much.

As we all await the millennium (year 2,000), the Nigerian Government began to prepare like there was going to be rapture. Many feared there were going to be so much disaster including food crisis. There was a notable rise in agricultural awareness and farmers were given motivational packages and supports to ease their setbacks. Also, there was a cautious appeal made to youths to pride in picking up agricultural jobs. Extension services were sponsored both by government and international organizations to set a pace for re-growth. This was when commercial farms began to spring up noticeably across the nation probably to take advantages of the subsidies and juicy packages that governments and pro-sustenance group offer to the farming public. Much talk rent the air trying to convince the new generation of youths, whose parents they once deceived to withdraw their minds from agriculture. So much for the ease and comfort of advancement and technology, minds were hardened to heed to return. The fact that we had so much advanced other cause of our lives including our taste and desires without pulling this advancement into the area of agriculture. This had made a call to pick up farming synonymous with a call to suffer, when we have a choice not to. So it is not surprising that despite advocacy campaign by several government to make agriculture flourish, little or nothing significant have been achieved.

Presently so much have been done by the agencies of government concerned with agriculture to assist farmers and encourage farming. As the year advances more, persons are going into farming operation and business. Also, many who are in the business are resigning from it owing to one frustration or the other. With the many operational programs of government, farmers have access to extension services and are best equipped with the most profiteering systems of farming. Fertility crisis in mostly the Northern Nigeria has been reduced by fertilizer distribution and subsidy by government, not to mention the irrigation schemes that perverse the length and breadth of most arid regions in Nigeria. So many research institutes have been established to proffer solution to problems of all sorts, trait diseases and conditions that surpass the capabilities of the farmers. This has guaranteed bumper harvest for many farmers and encouraged their picking up of loan facilities from the accredited agri-banks and financier institutions.

It will not be out of place to assume that the days when farmers were said to be crude is over. What they have as their challenge is the uncertainty of whether to farm or not. Uncertainty introduced by the uncertainty in market, uncertainty of policies from any of government or other regulators. Uncertainty whether profit will be made or not. Farmers are now aware of how they can care for their crops and how best to grow their animals. So, if more of the crops and animals are to be grown, more space will be sorted and more labour required pulling it through thus, this tip is not a problem for a willing farmer. The biggest issue is not land preparation, not weeding and growing the crop, the biggest problem starts at harvest. Till date in Nigeria, more crops and animals their products inclusive are lost during storage and processing which occurs after harvest. So that when a farmer harvests his produce and cannot find an immediate market for the goods or is waiting for the time when it will be most profitable to sell, storage or processing becomes an issue capable of introducing avenues for monumental losses.

Presently, Nigeria is busy battling with insecurity, corruption and bad leadership when the root cause of all these is bore down to hunger from the teaming masses. When we view the current trend in our food supply and distribution, it will open up the missing gap that has been created. It is logical enough to reason that more persons will be willing to grow crops and rear animals if they know where to sell it and are aware of price trends that can support this emergence with profit margins. People are also interested in knowing where there is scarcity of a particular product and who has a specified produce to sell. So, the real problem that has heightened the cost of food and changed our diet and our health is in three fold; location of market, price variance in regions and the demands that exists.

Whether we like it or not the only way to improve our lives in Nigeria is to strategize agriculture, such that farmers are happy to farm more while consumers have more choice to make on their food, and can better improve their health. Feeding well enhances our personality and strengthens development thus reduces our tendencies to do ills. Our government have done tremendously well in the past years to make the nation self sufficient, at least in the provision of food for the citizens. But, it wanders the onlooker where the problem really lies. We can make our problem lighter if we tap into the innovation that makes farming less prone to uncertainty especially for the commercial farmer.