A former Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has identified lack of access to credit by farmers and inadequate value addition to agricultural produce, among others, as part of challenges confronting the sector in Nigeria, stating that the country is in food crisis. Ogbeh made this known in Abuja while speaking at the National Farmers’ Day Campaign Launch, organised by Alliance for Science and 1 Hectare 1 Family group.
The former minister also decried the high cost of food items in the country, stating that with the burgeoning population of Nigeria, concerted efforts should be made to scale up food productivity to reduce poverty and crime in the nation. “Hunger is in Nigeria. We have food crisis. Our farmers can’t access credit. When I was a minister of agriculture for one tenure, we wanted to copy China on agriculture financing, where farmers are encouraged to own shares in the Bank of Agriculture. In this arrangement, every farmer is a shareholder. Taking a loan in the bank to finance agriculture today is a herculean task”, he said. Ogbeh added that due to the high interest rate, many farmers, who obtained loans from banks, have great difficulty in repayment.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Alliance for Science, Dr. Sheila Ochugboju, has called for the application of agricultural innovations, especially biotechnology, to produce resilient crops, increase productivity and enhance livelihoods. She stressed the need for the provision of quality seeds to farmers, to enhance food productivity. According to her, “With $9 billion a year, we can increase the quality of seeds and inputs that help farmers to excel. With $2 billon, we can improve storage and transportation of agricultural produce. There is a priority to increase farm input and ensure that everybody has access to nutritious, food daily”.
She stated that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved in empty stomachs while advocating for National Farmers’ Day. Ochugboju, further underscored the need to celebrate farmers, who are the producers of food. On his part, the National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Arch. Kabir Ibrahim, said Nigerian food systems are faced with a lot challenges, a situation he attributed to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Russia-Ukraine war, and global economic crunch. He urged Nigerian farmers to embrace agricultural biotechnology, saying it was the best way to eradicate poverty while the unveiling of the National Farmers’ Day, has been slated for December 1st.