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April 14, 2024
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Don Urges Revamp of River Basins to Encourage Year-round Farming

To increase production and curb food inflation in Nigeria, Professor Olufemi Ajayi has called on the federal government to revamp all of the nation’s river basins to encourage year-round farming.

Mr. Ajayi, from the Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, Faculty of Agriculture at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, made this statement in an interview with journalists on Monday in Lagos.

He mentioned that many facilities at the river basins had been abandoned for too long, rendering them obsolete. The government must revitalize the nation’s river basins to promote continuous food production, as this is the way forward.

The scholar also urged the government to empower, train, register, and protect all farmers.

“It is unfortunate that we had to wait until now when people are protesting because we have been warning for a long time about the looming food crisis.

“The food crisis is imminent, not just due to production alone but also because of our heavy reliance on imports. With the recent liberalization of the dollar, the cost of importing these foods will increase, and the cost of domestic production will also rise,” he said.

He also called on the federal government to address insecurity in food-producing states, as farmers are too afraid to return to their farms.

“Insecurity is a major issue; farmers are at the mercy of insurgents, leading them to abandon their fields and cease production. With the upcoming wet season, many farmers are still hesitant to return to their farms due to fear.

“As a nation, we need to come together to address these problems comprehensively. Insurgency is just the beginning of our challenges.

“The government should provide security for farmers so that they feel safe and can resume production processes without fear for their lives, property, and investments,” he added.

Regarding the release of crops from the grain reserves, the professor stated that it was not the appropriate action.

“The purpose of having grain reserves is to prepare for eventualities such as climate change, floods, insurgency challenges, and more. These reserves are not meant to address production challenges that would necessitate their consumption,” he explained.

Mr. Ajayi emphasized that releasing grains from the nation’s reserves would not solve the current challenges unless measures were taken to ensure that the grains reached every household. He suggested that the government establish a mechanism and timeframe for replenishing the nation’s food reserves.

To tackle the rising food inflation in the country, Mr. Ajayi recommended that the federal government engage experts to provide lasting solutions through a holistic approach.

He criticized the current approach of addressing the issue superficially rather than addressing it at its root cause. Identifying the root cause of the problem is crucial in finding a sustainable solution.

He urged the government to involve stakeholders, researchers, investors, experts, and farmers in identifying and solving the agricultural sector’s challenges.

“With no current production ongoing, how will we replenish our grain reserves? Will we resort to importation again? This indicates that we are not addressing the core problem.

“We need to address the root cause of the problem rather than just scratching the surface,” Mr. Ajayi concluded.

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