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How massive local production can boost food security

By Gbenga Akinfenwa
24 October 2021   |   3:40 am
One of the takeaways from the theme of this year’s World Food Day: “Our actions are our future- Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life,” is the need for farmers across the country to return to the massive production of food crops.

One of the takeaways from the theme of this year’s World Food Day: “Our actions are our future- Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life,” is the need for farmers across the country to return to the massive production of food crops.
 


This, according to experts, will not only prompt action to end hunger and ensure healthy diets for all, it will also boost food security, thereby, putting food on the table of many Nigerian.

But diverse challenges have been identified as factors bedeviling massive cultivation of food crops in the country. These include lack of good seeds, lack of access to adequate credit facilities, and lack of access to modern farming tools, among others.
 
The Country Director, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Nigeria, Dr. Kehinde Makinde, who said lack of good seeds plays a major part in the promotion of local food, noted that farmers in rural areas need good seeds for different crops that are being planted in various regions in the country.
 
He said: “Access to adequate credit facilities has remained a threat to the cultivation of local food in the country. Access to grants, and loans to farmers have remained one of the stumbling blocks of adequate food production.  Most farmers are willing to double their yearly productions, but they lack the adequate finance to do that.  Proper funding and access to credit facilities will help in building the gap between food shortage and improve food security in the country.
   


“In terms of getting access to mechanised farming, AGRA is trying to educate farmers about modern farming practices as most farmers in the rural area do not possess the skills to undertake modern farming. They believe in the old farming practices they inherited from their parents and ancestors.
 
“Organising both rural and urban farmers is key in cultivating local food. Most farmers cannot handle large farms due to the fact that they are used to cultivating small pieces of land for substantial and commercial use. Except the farmers are organised and trained, cultivating local food will be difficult.”
 
While noting that in most communities in Nigeria, farming is mostly done in the raining season, Makinde said just five per cent of farmers in the country are involved in irrigation farming “and that remains a local threat to cultivation of local food in the country. The Production system is mostly done in the rainy season. Most farmers are less educated and have less equipment in order to get involved in irrigation farming.
 
“As an agricultural company, AGRA is partnering with the Federal Government in many ways to better the lot of farmers in both rural and urban areas. As part of the Federal Government’s drive towards making food available to its citizens and also exporting some crops to boost the economy, the government in partnership with AGRA has perfected strategies ensuring both rural and urban farmers have access to advanced technology to boost food security.
 
“AGRA in its part has provided support in terms of providing improved seeds to farmers in rural areas where they find it hard to access such technologically advanced seeds that will boost the farm yield of farmers. In terms of adhering to modern agricultural best practices, AGRA has trained farmers mostly in rural areas by setting up demo farms for farmers to learn from their extension workers to know when to plant a particular seed, when to apply fertilizer and other chemicals that will help in nurturing the plant, when to harvest and what to use in harvesting those products.
 

“AGRA has also helped in the distribution mechanism. It involves helping agro dealers in rural areas to get and sell the right volume of seeds to farmers in rural areas. AGRA is building the network between government, seed companies and farmers. Distribution of input to small holders will go a long way in having a robust harvest,” he said.
 
On her part, the Executive Director, Spectra Industries Limited, Mrs. Remi Kuteyi, emphasised the need for the Federal Government to build resilient and robust food safety systems that can withstand increasing volatility, climate shock and sustainable diet in the face of the current economic meltdown. 
  
Kuteyi said the choice of food by Nigerians and the way it is consumed affects human health and that of the planet. 
 
“It has an impact on the way agri-food systems work. The UN Secretary-General has convened the very first Food Systems Summit in September to launch new actions in transforming ways the world produces and consumes food in line with Sustainable Development Goals.”

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