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Don urges revamp of river basins to tackle food inflation

He said the majority of the facilities at the river basins had been abandoned for too long, thereby becoming obsolete.

• February 19, 2024
River basins in Nigeria
Map showing river basins in Nigeria [Photo credit: ResearchGate]

A don, Prof. Olufemi Ajayi, says the federal government must revamp all the nation’s river basins to encourage all-year-round farming to increase production and curb food inflation in the country.

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

He said the majority of the facilities at the river basins had been abandoned for too long, thereby becoming obsolete.

He said the government must re-invigorate the nation’s river basins to produce food all year round, saying this is the only way forward.

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

“It is unfortunate that we had to wait till this time when people are now protesting because we have been raising this long before now that food crisis was looming.

“Food crisis is ahead of us; not just because of production alone but because we have relied too much on importation.

“Since we have relied too much on importation, now that the dollar has been liberalised, the cost of importing these foods will definitely go high, and the cost of producing within Nigeria will also go up,” he said.

He also urged the federal government to address insecurity around food-producing states as farmers were too scared to return to their farms.

“There is the problem of insecurity; farmers are at the mercy of insurgents, they have left the field, and they can’t produce again.

“We are going into the wet season soon, and many of the farmers are still scared; they are afraid, and they can’t go near their farms.

“I believe that we as a nation are not ready to come together to address those problems holistically.

“Insurgency is the beginning of our problems.

“Government should provide security for the farmers when they are assured that their lives and property are protected, their investments are secured, then they can gladly go onto the field and start all the processes of production,” he said.

On the issue of releasing crops from the grain reserves, the don said it was not the proper thing to do.

“Why do we have grain reserves? It is because of any eventualities like climate change problems, floods, challenges of insurgency that may cause relocation and dislocations and a lot more.

“That is why we keep grain reserves. We do not have production challenges that would have led us into consuming those grain reserves,” he said.

Mr Ajayi said releasing grains from the nation’s reserves would not address the present challenges unless measures were put in place to ensure the grains reached every household.

He said the government must also set up a mechanism as well as a time frame on when the grains would be restored back to the nation’s food reserves.

To address the nation’s rising food inflation, Mr Ajayi said the federal government must adopt a holistic approach by engaging experts to proffer lasting solutions.

He said what the government was doing presently was like addressing the problem from the top and not from the root.

He added that identifying the cause of the problem was the first step to overcoming it.

He, therefore, urged the government to engage stakeholders, researchers, investors, experts, and farmers to identify the problems of the agricultural sector and proffer solutions.

“There is no production on going presently, how are we going to refill our grain reserves? Are we still going to resort to importation to refill it?

“That means we have never looked for the problem, the issue is that we are not ready to address the problem.

“What we are doing presently is like addressing the problem from the top; whereas we should look for the root of the problem, and it will be solved,” said Mr Ajayi.

(NAN) 

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