Food crisis: FG, states review agric policies, programmes

Federal and state government officials from the ministries of agriculture have commenced the review of policies and programmes of Nigeria’s agricultural sector to avert the looming food crisis that could arise from insecurity on farmlands.

At the Officials’ Session-Opening Ceremony of the 44th National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development, participants raised concerns on how worsening insecurity was affecting agricultural production in Nigeria.

To avert the looming food crisis that this might cause, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ernest Umakhihe, who declared the council opened, said the country’s agricultural policies would be reviewed.

“This provides a forum for us to review ongoing policies and programmes towards a meaningful impact on the economy of the country,” he said.

Umakhihe added, “As a responsibility at this meeting, we will effectively examine the challenges in the agricultural sector and explore best approach to sustaining food security, employment generation and wealth creation in the country.

“This process is to assess the effect of extant policies and programmes, fine-tune the existing strategies, and shape initiatives for agricultural development in the country.”

The permanent secretary, however, noted that the government was implementing the prevailing frameworks of the National Economic Sustainability Plan and the Nigerian Agricultural Technology and Innovation Plan as a strategy for food resilience and economic development.

The 44th National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development had its theme as “Nigeria’s Agriculture and Food Security in the Face of COVID-19, Floods and Insecurity”.

Also speaking during the session, the Chair on Infrastructure, Nigeria Zero Hunger Forum, Prof. Gbolagade Ayoola, wondered why there had been persistent food policy problems from one regime to another or from one administration to another.

“Why is this happening, as if we cannot learn from our own mistakes from the past to the present?” he asked.

In providing answers to the question, Ayoola observed that the state of Nigeria’s agricultural infrastructure was poor and had remained so.

He said there had been gaps in infrastructure type, stock, quantity, flow, quality and sustainability, and that the philosophy behind food security policy was wrong and had remained so.

This, he explained, was in terms of the traditional notion of food as a human need that concentrated on the supply side of food market, rather than the contemporary notion of food as a human right that should concentrate on the demand side.