Family farming as solution to Nigeria’s food crisis
Sometime in April this year, Oxfam – a global movement of people, working together to end the injustice of poverty, predicted that nearly 25 million Nigerians were at risk of facing hunger between June and August this year.
True to this prediction, nothing less than 100 million Nigerians are currently starving as food insecurity rages, although the organisation did not envisage the fuel subsidy removal and other policies of the current administration.
With the latest inflation figure released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the increasing inflation rate up from 22.79 per cent in June to 24.8 per cent in July – the highest in about two decades, families are groaning as price staple food is increasingly becoming unbearable.
Market survey, shows that prices of rice, beans, garri, flour, yam, wheat, corn and sugar, among others, are rising almost on a daily basis, making living unbearable for many.
Since government can only do a little to solve the problem, experts in the agric sector have called for promotion of family farming, to assist the government, to avert the threat of food crisis.
According to the Food And Agriculture Organisation (FAO), family farming is a means of organising agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production, which is managed and operated by a family and predominantly reliant on family labor, including both women and men.
It is also subsistence for of farming, where nearly all the crops or livestock raised are used to maintain the farmer and the farmer’s family, leaving little, if any, surplus for sale or trade.
According to sector players, it’s a way of going back to the basics or going back to the root, to assist the government and society to avert food crisis, as practised in the advance country like China, India, United States among other.
The former Chairman, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) – Agric sector/Managing Director of Bama Farms, Prince Wale Oyekoya, family farming is another form of improving food production in the community.
“It increases food supply to the society. After feeding your nuclear family, you take the remaining produce to the flea or community market. All what the government needs to do is to provide seeds, suckers, for planting through the local councils or ministry of Agriculture.
“With the country’s ever growing population, family farming is the way out, especially with our current situation – food crisis. Family Farming is for home consumption, while the government or private sector should focus on mechanisation for commercial purposes.
“Small modern equipment like weeder, planter and harvesters can be fabricated by the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) or College of Technology. I have been an advocate of this family farming when I travelled to China and India, during Goodluck Jonathan’s administration which I introduced to the government but never implemented it,” he said.
Oyekoya said Nigeria will be out of food crisis and avert famine if the Tinubu administration can implement it, rather than listening to theories from professors on solution to food crisis, as the country needs practical farming experience to transform Agriculture.
“For better production in Nigeria, these four main types of Agriculture should be practiced – Subsistence farming; Shifting cultivation; Intensive farming; and Pastoral farming.
“The contribution of small farmers to total farm output in Nigeria exceeds 50 per cent while they cultivate 44 per cent of land. Small farmers are the ones who have lesser capital but higher use of labour and other family-owned inputs, and usually have high chances of cropping intensity and diversification.
“Family Farming is crucial to sustainable development goals. The FAO celebrates the UN decade of Family Farming, calling it an “Extraordinary Opportunity” that allows steady progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Family Farming eradicates rural poverty, hunger and all forms of malnutrition, as well as preserving natural resources and biodiversity. This factor is important as the UN food agency urges transformation in agriculture to fight climate change and ensure food security for an ever-growing population.
“There is an urgent need to support family farming in Nigeria as family farmers are important as they contribute immensely to food security and global poverty eradication. Globally, more than 90 per cent of farms are either operated by an individual or a family, producing about 80 per cent of the world’s food and occupying around 70 to 80 per cent of farm land.
“Extending family farming to schools will increase our production also and encourage the youths by catching them young. All what the three tiers of government needs to do is to provide enabling environment by making available seeds and suckers to be planted, which does not require too much capital unlike large scale farming.”
On her part, the CEO/Founder, Pepperrest Farms Limited, Oluwatosin Johnson, said if the promotion of the family farming scales through, it will be a boost to the food security drive, because “If people had the knowledge of growing their own food, it would help considerably in keeping cost of food per family down and increase the quality of food consumed.
“Personally, this has been a concern to me. How are people surviving? The cost of input escalated the price of food items, but transportation made the situation even worse. If people had the knowledge of growing their own food, it would help considerably in keeping cost of food per family down.
“This is why farms like pepperrest farms Ltd engage in training programmes to help teach people how to grow vegetables in limited spaces and with soilless technology. I do believe it is a viable way to address food security and improve the quality of food eaten.
To achieve this, Johnson said knowledge is crucial. “The only true proof of interest is participation in training, after which the setup kit can be provided or at least subsidised for participants.
“The government should encourage everyone to get involved through sensitisation campaigns and then proceed to help families and communities get the projects going by making farming kits, quality seeds, nutrients, etc, available.”
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