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Food crisis may get worse, farmers warn

By Fatima Muraina

Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have urged the Federal Government to take proactive steps and declare a state of emergency in the agricultural sector to address hunger in the country.

They expressed concerns that the present hardship might get worse if government fails to take urgent steps.

The stakeholders explained that the current food crisis could only be tackled through urgent intervention and effective collaborations among government at all levels and farmers.

They also called on individuals to adopt homestead farming systems, saying this would ensure food sufficiency and reduce hardship being faced by Nigerians.

According to them, government must come up with food security initiatives, immediate release of grains, seedlings, fertilizer,tractors, chemicals, irrigation equipment,prepared farmlands at subsidized rates and grants to make farming attractive to the people.

The stakeholders further charged the government to ensure that all intervention programmes are strictly given to the real farmers and not ” political farmers.”

They equally advocated mechanized farming to support commercial agriculture during production time.

The Chairman, Ondo State Agricultural Commodities Association (OSACA), Mr Gbenga Obaweya, urged government to make farming attractive by providing infrastructural development to make farming worthwhile to the people.

Obaweya explained the importance of government to food security which he noted is an important part of general security for survival.

He regretted that the ongoing nationwide hardship might continue if government fails to make a clear directive, and  banning nomadic means of raising animals and insisting that there must be ranches so that farmers would be assured of their safety before they return to farming.

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On his part, the President of Ondo State Farmers Congress who doubles as the State Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr Abayomi Monilari, advocated cluster farming, saying farmers who come together as groups still have their farms together.

“They are not afraid of being kidnapped because when they go in group, those kidnappers too will not dare them because they know most of them are fully prepared.”

According to Monilari, he wants the Federal Government to set up a committee to monitor and ensure that government intervention programmes are strictly given to the real farmers and not the political farmers who he identified are the major challenge that militates against availability of food.

They also called for construction and rehabilitation of rural roads for easy access to farmlands and transportation of agricultural products to the markets.

Speaking on various steps being taken by the government in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, the Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Edward Ogunmola, said government has provided some intervention programmes under the International Funds for Agricultural Development IFAD and the Ondo State Fadama through the Ondo CARES, facilitated by the Federal Government through the N-CARES programme.

The programmes, he said, are providing clearing of massive land for farmers and distribution of free seedlings and other agricultural inputs of various types to farmers across the state.

He also mentioned that the state will flag off the year 2024 planting season when the rain is steady to distribute agrochemicals freely to farmers.

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According to him, quality agricultural inputs are also provided by the state Agricultural Inputs Supply Agency (AISA), at a subsidized rate for farmers at their doorsteps.

He said that all the steps are to guarantee bumper harvest and increase food production to tackle hunger.

Ogunmola observed the need for the citizens to use the available spaces in their residences to plant and reduce expenses on food purchase.

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