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May 27, 2024

‘Develop Agricultural Policies Targeting Small Farm Owners to Reduce Poverty,’ Varsity Don Urges FG

A Professor of Agricultural Economics and Policy at  the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), Temidayo Apata, has urged the federal government to create agricultural policies favourable to small farm owners to reverse the current economic hardship.

The don made the call on Saturday while giving the 16th inaugural lecture of the University at Oye -Ekiti.

According to him,  creating agricultural policies in favour of small farm owners was the only viable measure to reduce the rate of abject poverty in Nigeria.

He maintained that fuel subsidy removal was inimical to large scale agricultural growth and productivity, cautioning that the  heavy removal of fuel subsidy could hamper agricultural growth and development, as it would lead to high cost of large-scale farming and manufacturing.

Decrying the neglect of agriculture in Nigeria since the oil boom era from the late 1950s, he said policy summersault had been largely responsible for the continued, and regrettable decline in agricultural development in the country.

He noted that small-holders of farms had been dogged even in the face of a stifling policy environment, and needed government sincere support, in order to assist in reducing the palpable poverty and hunger, ravaging the majority of Nigerians.

Mr Apata, therefore, urged the government to consider researchers in academia, as crucial partners, in the efforts to effect meaningful progress and development in the area of agriculture.

The scholar compared Nigeria’s growth in agricultural development to the geometrical growth recorded by Malaysia and China, and scored Nigeria very low owing to factors such as policy summersault, corruption, and inept managers in positions meant for technocrats.

He recalled that Nigeria witnessed meaningful and impactful agricultural growth development in the 1960s and 1970s, due to proper planning and well implemented policies.

Mr Apata said that Nigeria’s growth began to decline from the 1980s, and worsened till date, due to government’s neglect, hostile foreign influence and poor implementation strategies.

He recommended that in a region with limited natural resources and prospects for agricultural growth, investing in higher education was desirable, as a long-term development strategy.

The don also canvassed the promotion of local business activities, saying while implementing a series of pro-poor and agriculture- supporting policies to improve the situation of income distribution and reduce rural poverty, it is important to evaluate the impacts of these kinds of agricultural development policies on various groups among rural residents.

“There is a need for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (FMAFS) to periodically publish metrics, to track performance against the strategy, e.g., tonnage of rice paddy produced or yields/milking cow.

”The strategy will collect accurate data and integrate results from processed data into policy-making and investor planning.

”Moving forward, there is a dire need for significant investments in people, processes and systems.

“It is necessary to move Nigeria’s agriculture from business as usual to a commercial ecosystem that can produce the capabilities necessary to create sustainable jobs and wealth.

” There is also the need for academic institutions to engage in the policy- making process that must influence agricultural policy-making at both the state and national levels.

“To this end, there is the need to establish policy influence committees within each Faculty of Agriculture, comprising experts from various departments, to address diverse agricultural policy issues comprehensively,” he said.

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