By Fatima Muraina
Nigerians are hungry and angry, The Hope investigation has shown.
Reports across the country showed that the recent increase in fuel price and electricity tariff has brought hardship to many homes.
To tame the situation, experts in agriculture have enjoined the federal government to declare a state of emergency in the sector.
The experts warned that unless urgent emergency steps are taken to cushion the effects of spiral inflation, the nation might be heading towards anarchy.
They called for remedial steps to ameliorate the situation as the purchasing powers of the common man have waned.
Agric experts, who spoke with The Hope in separate interviews include: Director, Teaching and Research Farm, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Dr. Jibayo Oyebade , Head of Department, Meteorology and Climatic Science, School of Sciences, Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), Prof. Ahmed Balogun,
Prof James Okunola of the Department of Agricultural Extension, FUTA and a Senior lecturer at the Department of Agronomy, Federal College of Agriculture, Akure (FECA), Dr. Emmanuel Moyinjesu
They identified drought experienced from June to August, worms attack on crops, restriction of movement due to COVID-19, insecurity, the present hike in fuel price and electricity tariff among other numerous challenges as factors responsible for the adversity being experienced in the agric sector.
The Head of Department, Meteorology and Climatic Science, School of Sciences, Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), Prof. Ahmed Balogun urged Nigerians not to rely on a single source of income and engage in food production.
Another scholar in the Department of Agricultural Extension, FUTA, Prof James Okunola urged the country to enhance its technological innovation, saying most farmers are producing on a small scale due to lack of required technology.
He said there was need to provide effective agricultural extension services to educate farmers on the new technology, which would enhance their food production capacity.
Okunola advised government to embark on “evolving policy”, which will aid local production of food for the people.
He applauded Federal Government on the ban of rice importation, which he said has improved indigenous commercial rice production such that the country is nearing self-sufficiency.
He further advised every household to go into subsistence farming as he also called for an advocacy for people to know their rights.
“The unions, institutions and organs should make government realise what is going on in the land because people will now pay for increased electricity, fuel, diesel and many other things while the income is static and this has affected the purchasing power of the people.
The university don charged government to promulgate and implement a law to tackle banditry and the Fulani herdsmen attacks.
“State governments in collaboration with the security agents must come up with policies to secure lands and the people as well as ensuring that farmlands and farmers are protected,” he said.
The Director, Teaching and Research Farm, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Dr. Jibayo Oyebade said Nigerians would continue to groan except a state of emergency is declared in the agricultural sector, calling for a national conference in agriculture to proffer solution to the hunger in the country.
Oyebade noted that the national conference would provide avenue for people to showcase the agricultural endowments in their communities for government to wade in.
“Federal government should declare a state of emergency in Agriculture and mandate the Ministry in charge to give 20,000 cleared plots of land in three locations in every state to be ploughed and engaged compulsorily. They have to pick specific crops to be produced abundantly and processed, involving youths and the retirees,” he advised.
A senior lecturer at the Department of Agronomy, Federal College of Agriculture, Akure (FECA), Dr. Emmanuel Moyinjesu identified the need for agricultural insurance policy to succour farmers in terms of financial assistance.
Moyinjesu, who also emphasized the need for irrigation system to increase food production, urged government to encourage post harvest handling and buying of items from farmers which would afford them better remuneration with more profits.