URGENT NEED TO ADDRESS FOOD CRISIS & HUNGER IN NIGERIA AND AN APPEAL TO STRENGTHEN YOUR RENEWED HOPE AGENDA
First and formost, I must acknowledge that you are a reformer, full of zest and patriotic spirit to see Nigeria work and this has been largely demonstrated since you assumed office on May 29, 2023, you are truly the best man for the job.
For me, I feel so happy, elated and fulfilled having campaigned for you, right from Atlanta, United States of America and back here in Nigeria as member of different support Groups and also a President of Vanguard Network For All Progressives Congress (APC). I campaigned vigorously and risked it all to cast my one beloved vote for PBAT, and truly desire for him to succeed.
I long to see my beloved country take her rightful place and be great again as a land flowing with milk and honey. And PBAT is the one I believe can make Nigeria great again. I left USA for over 4 months to “stationed” myself in Nigeria to actively campaign and vote, and I am convinced that this effort will not be in futility and I pray that Nigeria will succeed as well as PBAT.
I will simply say you are destined for greatness and you will continue to fulfill your destiny even in the interest of all Nigerians across the six geopolitical zones.
However, as one of your ardent supporters there is something urgent which I think you really need to cater to as a matter of urgency, and that is the menace of hunger bedeviling our land, its devastating effects are utterly unthinkable and of monumental proportion to say the least.
Sir, getting food in abundance will definitely ease the people’s pain and I’m sure you will agree with me sir. Yoruba says “ti ebi ba kuro ninu ise ise buse”. The reality is that when people are hungry, it’s very difficult for them to listen or even reason well. The renewed hope and reforms being done now may even mean nothing to an hungry man.
As advanced as USA is, it still imports foods, and also subsidizes some categories of food. A larger percentage of US imports are foods, and these include fruits, vegetables, beef, seafood etc. The US is a major producer and exporter of food products, yet it’s also one of the world’s largest food importers.
At this juncture, permit me to say there is nothing wrong with the Nigerian Governors and the Federal government subsidizing (locally produced) foods. USA for example subsidizes food, and their highly subsidized foods are rice, corn and wheat.
Although Your Excellency, I must acknowledge and salute your intervention which was set to address the issue of food insecurity, when you declared a state of emergency to tackle food crises in July 2023. You highlighted several plans to combat the problem. While the your action is commendable, a deeper examination of Nigeria’s food insecurity issue shows that the declaration is only one step out of many to be pursued.
Sir, may I crave your indulgence that to also mitgate this food crises and hunger in the land we must as well work with all the countries bordering us towards economic prosperity as we need each other, especially on trade issues, security and border controls. Beyond being a major player in the subregion, Nigeria will have to sustain its spotlight on African countries as the fulcrum of its policies on the economy and foreign policy all these need to be mutually accentuated.
We also need to move a little faster to catch up with modern agriculture, and if we must make agro business attractive, especially to the younger generation, we must constantly improve the way we farm and embrace mechanisation.
As food prices has continued to increase because of inflation with 25 million Nigerians at high risk of hunger, the Nigerian government must encourage private investments in the agricultural sector by providing incentives that apply to both primary and secondary food producers. Also, there is a need for the government to educate farmers on sustainable agricultural practices such as agroforestry, biologically integrated farming systems, and precision farming. These modern farming methods will help farmers increase productivity.
The agricultural sector suffers several challenges. Inputs, such as human resources, machinery, and financial investment, are insufficient. The government executes poor agricultural projects and programmes. Also, the country’s farming system is outdated. For example, most farmers in Nigeria still rely on rainfall for planting because only a few farmlands have irrigation systems. Some farmers still engage in farmland overgrazing, repetitive tillage, and burning of vegetation, which are harmful practices. Declaring a state of emergency on food insecurity without addressing the identified issues will be a mere political statement, yielding nothing.
For a start, the Nigerian government should review its incentive policies to cover all sectors connected to agriculture. The Finance Act 2020 provides for an initial tax-free period of four years and other incentives for companies involved in primary agricultural production. However, the Act excludes companies engaged in intermediate or final production.
According to the Act, primary agricultural production means the production of raw crops of all kinds, live animals, and their direct produce. In contrast, secondary agricultural production processes raw agricultural produce into food for human or animal consumption. So, it means a farmer who cultivates corn and wheat is entitled to a tax waiver, but companies that process these items into chicken feeds are not.
Such limitation discourages investors and start-ups from engaging in secondary agricultural production. Ultimately, job losses come from the value-adding processes at the secondary agricultural chain level. Therefore, extending tax incentives to secondary agricultural industries will attract investors at this production level.
At the moment, however, the ship is in your control and you are the new captain who must be fully in charge and I pray the ship will not sink but will sail successfully.
Accept, Sir, the renewed assurances of my high consideration.
Princess Omolola Priscilla is the President of Vanguard Network For All Progressives Congress (APC), she’s also a seasoned Banker and Financial Analyst, she wrote from Atlanta Georgia, United States of America.