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‘Agro-infrastructures inevitable to food security’

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• Animal scientist suggests cattle tracking devices, enabling laws
To deepen food production in the country and avoid hunger and malnutrition, southern states have been called upon to step up agricultural production amid restricted food supplies from northern traders.

The call trailed attempts by members of the Amalgamated Union of Food Stuffs and Cattle Dealers to cut off food supplies from the northern part of the country to the southern parts.

Such efforts, agricultural scientists and industrial stakeholders said, include farm settlements, irrigation facilities, storage and cottage processing clusters in a private-public partnership model.

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Advantage of such investments would be food security, employment opportunities and poverty alleviation, as well as import substitution industrialisation of the economy.

In another development, farmer-herder crisis across the country, which has been identified as one of the factors causing insecurity and farm disruption, can be tackled using cattle tracking technologies and enabling laws with catholic implementation.

Dr Bolade Agboola, an animal scientist, explained to The Guardian that “the South Western states must rise to the occasion and do everything possible to protect both the farmers and the herders in their domains.”

The things to do, he added, include “Creation, by law, the Cattle and Large Animals Identification and Tracking bureau to organise use of electronic tags – Radio Frequency and Identification (RFID) in their states.” He explained that the device is simple and cheap, saying: “It uses mobile telephone technology, which is available throughout the country. Cost can easily be passed to the consumer. The tag must contain comprehensive information on vaccination, ownership and biometric features,” among others. 

“The South West states should revive cattle farms established across the region in the first republic under a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement. They can be turned to teaching and research farms for developing livestock entrepreneurship for our youths,” he advised.

He also warned that the Federal Government should create a law regulating entry and exit of cattle through land borders, saying the identification and tracking device ought to be mandatory for all cattle entering or leaving our territory.

Meanwhile, Prof. Gbolagade Babalola Ayoola a professor of Agricultural Economics and Policy, said governors in the south have never done enough about infrastructure from the outset. He added: “We need more, not less infrastructures, by the minimum standard, particularly rural infrastructures that form the backbone for agriculture….”

Ayoola said the superior role the constitution plays on states, in collaboration with local government authorities is providing farm infrastructure, because agriculture takes place at the state level.

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Therefore, the Federal Government is constitutionally designed to complement the efforts of the state in that direction, not the other way round. 

Food distribution in a country, he explained, is not a matter of dependency, but a matter of market competition to explore internal comparative and competitive advantages. 

“Thus the latest development about food blockade is economically nonsensical and a double-edged sword that does nobody any good,” he said.

The states or regions of the country that have good infrastructures will eventually benefit more in terms of food availability, accessibility, affordability and, hence, utility of food, he argued.

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