By Winner Lucky Wanyanwu
The most effective way to improve the livelihood of millions of Nigerians in poverty is to support Agricultural development. Transforming a Country’s Agricultural sector will not only bring about food stability but can create jobs, raise income, reduce malnutrition and put the economy on the path of middle-income growth.
Agriculture is the main driver of development. It offers a pathway to food security, economic well-being and social stability for millions of people. Investing in agriculture is effective in reducing poverty as investing in other Sectors.
Agriculture provides most of the world’s food and fabrics. Cotton, wool, and leather are all Agricultural products. Agriculture also provides wood for construction and paper products. These products, as well as the agricultural methods used, may vary from one part of the world to another.
Nigeria is rich, not just in natural resources but also in human resources so can feed herself. As we know, Nigeria was once a net exporter of major food and cash crops including rice, groundnuts, cassava, cocoa, cotton and palm oil. We can be food exporter again.
Nigeria’s oil has come at the detriment of the Agricultural Sector. In the 1960s, before the Nation turned to oil, Nigeria was one of the most promising agricultural producers in the world.
Between 1962 and 1968, export crops were the country’s main foreign exchange earner. The country was number one globally in palm oil exports ahead of Malaysia and Indonesia, and exported 47 percent of all groundnuts, putting it ahead of the USA and Argentina.
Unfortunately, its status as an agricultural powerhouse has declined leaving the Country a mono economy (dependent on oil) Nation.
To revamp Agriculture in Nigeria, we must develop innovative and climate-resilient solutions, such as seeds and make sure they are available to resource-poor farmers.
We can focus on using cassava for starch, dry cassava chips for export to China, cassava flour to replace some of the wheat flour that we are importing.
The human cost of bad governance is evident in the low level of basic infrastructure, weak healthcare and educational system, high unemployment and the number of out-of-school children, amongst others. Across the socio-economic class divide, there is a feeling that the effects of bad governance will catch up with everyone someday. The recent protests by young Nigerians against police brutality( EndSARS) exposed the gross human rights abuses suffered by many Nigerians at the hands of the institution created to protect them. More than about the police itself, the protests demonstrated the youths discontentment with governance throughout the country.
Nigerians are now demanding that the government tackles the root causes of poverty, insecurity, human rights abuses and socio-economic instability through good governance vis-a-vis government policies.
Moving ahead to the 2023 elections, attention must be focused on the overlooked question of who becomes a political leader to achieve these goals. Government must work towards a number of agro-processing agenda aimed at reducing unemployment, lower poverty incidence and boost food self-sufficiency, economic growth and increase exports.
Let’s think agriculture this season as we join the honourable supervisor for Agriculture in Obio/Akpor LGA, Rivers State, Hon. India Johnson Amadi and his team of great thinkers to model out strategies adopted to revamp Agriculture in the LGA and Rivers State at large.
We can farm our way out of poverty.
Winner Lucky Wanyanwu sent this from Port Harcourt