By Olamide Tejuoso
There is a saying that, you might not need a doctor more than once a month, but you need a farmer, at least three times daily, to stay healthy. Someone once asked, why should farmers be interested in who comes to power in their state and country? Why shouldn’t they? In a situation where government, even in democracy, influences how farmers operate, what farmers produce, where farms are located, how products are transported and processed, how commodities are traded, and prices are determined; should they (farmers) not then consider well, who they vote into power?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘governance’ as ‘the way that organisations or countries are managed at the highest level, and the systems for doing this’. Governance is not just one man’s business; it should be the interest of every citizen. At this point, it is important to note that general economic growth or development is determined by government policies. Whether we like it or not, government plays significant role in our daily lives. How can we forget that governments determine tariffs, import levies, import quotas, export subsidies, direct payments to farmers, and limitations on production. Besides, are government policies not binding on farmers as well? Are they not part of the nation’s population?
The truth remains that the government impacts practically all aspects of citizens’ lives. Government is not an abstract thing, but it is about people; they are the ones who make laws, determine the taxes we pay, the bills we foot for using government resource and so on. Furthermore, farmers should be interested in governance because they equally have civic responsibility, just as other citizens. Being interested in the electoral process of their country would expose to political education. And thus, giving them a voice; a say over matters of the nation. It is often said that, your vote is your power; not just at the polls, but till the government into voted into office finishes tenure.
The election season is not just for farmers to be on their farmlands, cultivating and harvesting. They should also go out and lend their voices to political discourses. Bad governance has been proven to be one of the root causes of all evil within our societies. Good governance, on the other hand, reduces risks and threat associated with lives and property and overall economic performance, among others. For instance, in Nigeria, the 2023 general elections is the seventh, since the restoration of democracy back to the country. Now, what is the essence of democracy when everybody would not have a say in who becomes the head of government?
Similarly, a vote for good governance by farmers would be a vote for political stability. This is because without a stable political atmosphere, even farmers will not be able to go to the farm. All efforts to improve agriculture and food security results must take governance into account, as governments are the main actors in the physical, social, and economic components of a nation’s food security. In other words, without a stable economy, there will be challenges for agriculture to face, which could subsequently affect food security. The connections between governance, agriculture, and food security suggest that attempts to alleviate poverty must integrate all the three elements.
For instance, direct impact is made on farmers through annual budgeting, which includes subsidies, grants, trainings, and so on. Farmers must also, like other concerned citizens, ensure that they speak through their votes. Farmers are not dummies! They must ensure strong governance, even from the grassroots levels. When challenges face nations, it is not just ordinary citizens that will bear brunt of it; everyone would. Agriculture, as a sector, should be intentionally given priority, not as second option, but as the mainstay of the nation’s economy. If farmers don’t lend their voices through their electoral participation, the sector may not really get the attention that it deserves because adequacy of government services to agriculture is certainly related to how the sector will be engaged and eventually managed.