As North threatens to cut food supply: Time for Southern Nigeria to invest heavily in agriculture

It is no longer news that Northern Nigeria has finally let the cat out of the bag. They have obviously stated that piece of their mind which they have hidden under their heart over the years. In the past 50 years, the north had been accessing and cornering all agricultural loans and other incentives from within and outside Nigeria in the name of producing food that would feed all Nigerians.

The Anchor Borrowers Loan, CBN, IITA, CSDP, World Bank, Agricultural Development Bank loans, name it, were and are being made available to Northern farmers. Their former and current political office holders more especially governors and senators own the biggest rice, poultry and other food commodity farms across Nigeria. Yes, they have that monopoly in Agriculture using state and federal powers to achieve that.

They determine and fix the prices of these food items they produce with our common wealth, yet no serious revenue is coming from their end to our national coffers. Oil in the south is the only national asset. A recent investigation showed clearly that over 90% of all refundable loans given to Northern farmers are not refunded, no serious efforts are intensified however, to recover them. Again, it is on record that the stringent conditionalities given to Southern farmers by way of collateral, bank and referees’ support considered before one could access any agric loan are waved out for northerners through their political leaders and this accounts for why they take about 80% of all agric facilities in Nigeria, leaving a little above 20% for the entire south.

With the turn out of events today, its crystal clear that there might be famine in the southern Nigeria should the north make good their threat of cutting food supply to the South. A situation where almost every food item consumed in the south including meat come from the north goes to show that the entire south and it’s leaders had been sleeping on the highway for a very long time now. Rice, beans, yam, groundnut, tomatoes, onions, cows, goats, carrot, cucumber, watermelon, garden egg just name it, come direct from the north. The only three things which we know the north doesn’t have for now is palm oil, garri and ugu vegetable. It beats our imagination therefore, that the desert dwellers who ordinarily should beg the Southerners living in fertile lands and natural water areas food are the ones threatening the south with food supply cut. Shame to all Southerners.

We in the Nigerian Newsguide seize this medium to condemn the docility and indifference to Agriculture of our people over the years. We like so much of white collar jobs and have remained a consuming economy, while jettisoning the real sector. Our big men abroad send big monies and we withdraw them each day to build sky scrappers in our villages and cities, we mean residential buildings that will not bring anything in return.

The Igbo proverb of “Onye nka mma akolam onu, meaning those we are better off, have mocked us” is actually our situation now in the hands of the north.
We must therefore rise to this challenge in order to change the narrative in the years ahead. Our rich men must go into Agriculture now, mobilizing men and resources for commercial and mechanized farming starting with the present farming season starring us all in the face. We have fertile and arable land to do wonders starting from this point. All the food crops and seedlings that grow in the north also grow and do better here in the South.

As such, let’s shun laziness and stupid counsels from a few arm chair critics of government who will always blame those in power for their inability to impregnate their wives. We have improved crops and seedlings that are high yielding yet resistant to diseases. When ten big men for instance invest 50 million Naira in farming in each community, the tendency is that such community will be food sufficient year in and out.

What about the value chain which entails to engage not less than 500 youths and women in that community. What about meat production? Imagine a situation where five big men own different cow ranches and goat farms of at least 150 cows and goats each, do you think any member of such community would go to Ama Hausa or mammy market to buy cows or goats for burial ceremony or for any event.
Our southern governors must liaise with Agricultural policy experts and Farmers’ Associations to immediately come up with policies either to produce food and other allied products for domestic consumption or for export. Either of the two is good but the latter is better.

Loans and incentives must be facilitated by government and made available to Farmers to ensure seamless farming activities and bumper harvest. Our children are mal-nurished due to inadequate food nutrients particularly protein foods and this accounts for why they tend to misbehave when growing up and most times turn to social misfits in adult age.

Goat, egg and fish production in this regard must be encouraged by all and sundry, and conscious efforts intensified to secure our future. Agriculture is the way to go and all hands must be on deck at least to feed the South.

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