Researchers and experts in the University have advised governments at all levels in the country to develop good road networks, provide electricity, storage facilities and formulate good policies for the agricultural sector, to boost food security and reduce hunger in the land. According to Professor Lateef Sanni of the Department of Food Science and Technology, any government’s intervention should be geared towards sustaining agriculture. Professor Sanni, who is also the Dean, College of Food Science and Human Ecology (COLFHEC), while speaking against the backdrop of the Federal Government’s intention to regulate the price of farm commodities in the market across the country, advised government to allow real farmers to have access to credit facilities on time, ensure that funds get to the real beneficiary and also invest more on the provision of rural roads infrastructure.
Professor Sanni stressed the need for consistency in government policies, interventions and programmes such that they would enhance the income and promote the livelihood of Nigerian masses. He equally advised the government to promote the cultivation and production of cassava, which he said was capable of producing 54 million tons per annum, generate employment and serve as foreign exchange earner for the country.
On her part, Professor Dupe Akintobi, an expert in Plant Breeding and Seed Technology, College of Plant Science and Crop Production (COLPLANT), said that the problem of high prices of food in the country was not the job of a committee, rather government should consider the problem holistically and address it with a view to providing long term solutions, adding that “we have to ensure that the farmers have necessary inputs to produce these crops. We must provide the necessary infrastructure like good roads for these food items to move from the farms to the markets”.
“I believe that the first step is to produce good quality seeds for the farmers because without good seeds, there is no agriculture. When we have good seeds and we back it up with the necessary inputs like agro-chemicals, herbicides and the farmers have modern farm implements to plough the land (not by using the cutlass and hoe), then we would be able to produce enough food and the government can now create a marketing channel by which the food will be readily available”, she added.
Professor Akintobi stated further that the only way to bring youths back to agriculture was to promote mechanised agriculture, noting that “the moment we develop new technologies in our agriculture from this hoe and cutlass of a thing, a lot of our youths would be interested because I don’t know how any of our graduates that can boldly say he/she can operate a tractor. We need the infrastructure. We need the implements. We need the necessary equipment to train these students to be modern day farmers. I can assure you, a lot of them will be interested”, she said.
The Director, Institute of Food Security, Environmental Resources and Agricultural Research (IFSERAR), Professor Akin Omotayo, said what Nigerians were now experiencing in the economy was that few goods are being chased by a lot of money, saying the effect of such development was that prices would go up. The former Commissioner for Agriculture in Ekiti State, highlighted the way out of the current economic challenge facing the nation to include: ensuring that only the infrastructure that support farmers are made available all the time, by empowering farmers to produce in large quantities and making available, good network of roads that would enable a farmer to transport his/her produce to a place where he/she would make optimal profit.
Professor Omotayo said another area that needed attention was the availability of storage facilities to prevent post-harvest losses, stating that “if we make provisions for the kind of support the farmer needs in terms of storage. The farmer can split supply to the market, which would ensure price stability over a period of time. These are the things that are required to drive down the prices of food in the market”. He advocated for the empowerment of youths towards encouraging them to see agriculture as a means of livelihood like other professions in the country. “They should be empowered in terms of credit or loan facility to be able to own their own machinery, to own their own lands, own their means of production. With that, nobody would force them into farming”, the Don stated.