Why South West States Should Embrace Mechanized Agriculture — Features — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

The South West region is unquestionably endowed with vast arable land and human resources that can be cultivated to produce enough food for the region and other parts of the country.

[FILE PHOTO] Tractor

In terms of agronomic policies and plans, the states in the region have what could be called the best policies, compared to other parts of the country.

But the sad reality is that laudable policies have not translated into the expected food security, as they are more on paper than in practice.

Despite its enormous agricultural production and potential, the region’s agribusiness capacity has declined in recent years as successive administrations have failed to aggressively exploit the sector’s resources.

For now, the region is solely dependent on food supplies from the north to meet its high demands as the majority of farmers now practice subsistence farming.

Last year’s temporary halt in the supply of food and livestock to the south from the north by the merged Food and Livestock Traders Union of Nigeria opened the eyes of stakeholders to the need for create a better approach to agri-allied engagement in the region.

Throughout the strike, many trailers carrying cows, tomatoes, onions, pepper, cereals and other foodstuffs were prevented from leaving the Niger State border town to the south.

In the southwestern states, prices for some food items from the north increased by more than 100%, further exacerbating food shortages during the period. For example, a basket of tomatoes was sold for 30,000 naira in perishable food markets in Lagos. A bag of peppers rose to N20,000, chilli (Rodo) was sold between N22,000 and 25,000, while the price of the onion soared.

Although poor infrastructure, insufficient funding, poor research and record keeping, lack of information, lack of mechanized agriculture, among others, have been attributed as mitigating factors, it is also argued that the various governments States continued to pretend to be favorable to the sector.

According to current research in the region, many of its farmers still depend on rudimentary farming tools and storage facilities, which inadvertently affect food production. For example, the lack of proper irrigation devices makes it difficult to farm during the dry season, and the lack of mechanical tools such as tractors to replace manual labor reduces production due to fatigue.

State governors have been blamed for this as industry players believe they have a huge role to play in terms of supportive policies, research, subsidies to rural farmers, subsidized farm equipment and facilities. of storage.

A senior Bank of Agriculture (BoA) official in Lagos has accused South West governors of lacking political will to ensure their people are involved in several agricultural initiatives, adding that governors no longer encourage locals of the area to be cultivated.

She revealed that the states in the northern geopolitical zone are taking maximum advantage of all agricultural programs to advance their course.

In a recent interview, the Agbekoya Farmers’ Society, which is troubled by the turn of events in the sector, called on South West Governors and sector players to come together and brainstorm a big plan for agriculture commercial and mechanized and agricultural policy. which is focused on farmers, rather than playing politics with agriculture.

The group’s national publicity secretary, Mr Olatunji Bandele, said: “Governors in the South West should rethink how to reorganize our farmlands, which criminal herders and their cattle have destroyed and find ways to resettle the farmers who have been displaced from their villages. and farms in recent years.

“This is where the Agbekoya Farmers Association will be indispensable as we have over 20,000 hectares of farmland throughout the South West which can be used for cluster farming for easy mechanization but our governors are not not ready to help us with funds, agricultural inputs and fertilizers. .

“The people of the North and their leaders have helped their farmers financially and also ensured that they have access to agricultural inputs and fertilizers, but the governors of the South West are busy playing selfish politics instead of directly help farmers.

“The federal government has played politics with agriculture since the inception of this administration by abandoning cassava farmers in the southwest and favoring rice farmers in the north with huge investments in rice farming and milling. This is a time for South West Governors and our leaders to wake up and face the reality of food security in the South West.

Founder of Menitos Farm, Lagos, Toluwalope Daramola, said the challenge is due to farmers’ lack of access to equal farming incentives, which cannot make them compete favorably with their counterparts.

She said: “Most of the structures put in place are not under good management as management is assigned on the basis of patronage. The management of agricultural initiatives in the region is also poor, while the southwestern states have generally politicized the initiatives, the north focuses on the beneficiaries getting everything they need.

Daramola advised state governors through their ministries of agriculture to provide farmers with modern tools such as tractors, plows and irrigation devices.

She said: “Perishable cooling supplies can also be installed in trucks to keep perishable food products fresh. Incubators should also be acquired to improve poultry farming.

Chief Farmer of Imeko, Ogun State, Chief Ismail Abolore, said the region continues to face a series of challenges, despite farmers’ efforts to maintain productivity.

He noted that governors have a major role to play in ensuring that the region is mechanized for maximum productivity to ensure food sufficiency.

“The closure of our land borders is supposed to be a blessing for the country and the farmers, but the reverse is true as many factors have eroded the gains such as climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, government policies at risk, shortage of good infrastructure, lack of modern farming tools to improve food production, alleged insincerity of state governments to issue Certificate of Occupancy (CoO) to farmers and lack of adequate funds.

“There is too much deception from our governments in the way they propagate the agricultural sector where there is no adequate support for local farmers. Some farmers are even leaving the sector due to lack of funds, support and enabling environment from the government.

“All the intervention funds on the pages of the newspapers do not reach the real farmers, but the political farmers. Poultry farmers are now lamenting the lack of patronage and expensive feed while maize has become a golden or unavailable commodity in the markets. We are a long way from food sufficiency in the southwest and it will continue to be so until our governors embrace mechanized agriculture,” he said.

About Keneth T. Graves

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