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April 17, 2024
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AFAN, Southwest Assures Govt of Readiness to Tackle Food Crisis

Clarion Olusegun

Amidst the skyrocketing inflation rate and the alarming surge in food prices gripping Nigeria, Otunba Femi Oke, the Chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Southwest and Lagos state chapter, expressed the association’s readiness to collaborate with governments at all levels to combat these problems.

The chairman made this known on Wednesday during an exclusive interview with AgroNigeria in Lagos.

In his words: “We are open for more collaboration as we are currently working with the government to achieve full food security. The government is now collaborating with AFAN to explore agricultural solutions to stabilize commodity prices.

“We are also working closely with the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) at the federal level, which has approached us for assistance in clearing land for our farmers to cultivate local foods. We are also collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

“There is no person in the country today who is not struggling with the high rates of commodities. So, AFAN is trying to see how we can bring the prices down and provide relief to Nigerians.

“This is why we are providing the federal government with all our ideas, which are genuinely aimed at lowering prices.”

He revealed that AFAN is actively facilitating open markets for farmers to sell their produce, while the state government is providing crucial support to rice farmers, particularly in areas such as paddy supply.

“This collaborative effort aims to ensure a steady supply of paddy to rice mills for processing. We appreciate the assistance from both AFAN and the state government in this regard.”

Lamenting the challenges facing farmers, Oke said: “The increase in fuel prices has led to transportation challenges and contributed to inflation.

“Additionally, factors like insecurity, fluctuating exchange rates, and reliance on imported goods further strain the economy.”

Speaking further, he said that the recent call by the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria for the federal government to halt food importation within two weeks is concerning, noting that opening up the borders for imports could undermine local farmers and discourage government support for agriculture.

He advised that the focus should be on empowering Nigerian farmers by providing them with necessary resources such as access to loans and assistance with land preparation.

He added that state governments should also establish agricultural clusters to streamline production and reduce commodity prices, including good transportation and storage infrastructure that can further alleviate the burden on consumers.

Investing in measures like agricultural machinery and boosting agriculture can lead to a reduction in commodity prices.

Commending the Niger state government on importing agricultural machinery like tractors, he said that Southwest governors should learn from this proactive measure to support farmers.

He said: “It’s commendable that Niger State has taken such steps, and other states should consider similar initiatives to enhance agricultural productivity and address local challenges effectively.”

Otunba Oke maintained that seasonal farming is crucial, especially in regions like the Southwest where irrigation may not be accessible to all farmers.

He further disclosed that farmers across the Southwest are currently gearing up for wet season farming, while appreciating any assistance from state governors to ensure productive wet season farming.

Meanwhile, he pointed out that due to climate variability and water constraints, farmers sometimes need to adjust farming plans.

In light of climate change, he said that AFAN aims to enhance resilience among small-scale farmers in the Southwest, although when it comes to mitigating the impacts of climate change, associations like AFAN have limited capacity.

“We often rely on prayer and adjust our production schedules to minimize losses. Unfavorable weather conditions, such as excessive sunlight in December, can delay planting and affect crop maturity. We are vigilant and adaptive, but ultimately, addressing climate change requires broader efforts beyond our control.”

Speaking on farmers in the Southwest chapter and their intention to improve food security within the region, he said that AFAN is collaborating with the federal government to extensively explore agricultural solutions to stabilize and increase food production.

“We regularly liaise with the state directors of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to obtain input and subsidies for our agricultural inputs.

“Many of the seeds we use are sourced from the federal government through the Seed Council, with whom we maintain a collaborative relationship.

“The close relationship between farmers and the government is crucial, and we continue to work closely together on various initiatives.

“We are actively addressing challenges such as inflation and others as they arise. Additionally, I recently met with the Minister of Agriculture to discuss ongoing efforts.

“Our agricultural communities are highly productive, and our collaboration with government agencies remains strong.”

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