Professor Toyin Falola

Professor Toyin Falola

A distinguished University Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, United States of America, Professor Toyin Falola has berated many African governments for not doing enough to provide food security for Africans.

Professor Falola who delivered the 26th Convocation Lecture of the University titled, “Food and Us: Poverty, Policies and Politics”, said this failure is partly due to government’s negligence of the land’s politics which has resulted to hunger in the land.

According to the Historian and Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities, “Given Nigeria’s vast resources, we should be neither hungry nor poor, but the state of poverty in Nigeria has reached incredible height. People have been poor, and they are getting poorer, hungrier, and more desperate”.

Professor Falola who added that, “deprivation has robbed so many Nigerians of their dignity that food has acquired a larger-than-life status in the social consciousness”, however stressed that there are solutions that can be provided by the government and Universities to empower the society at large.

In his recommendation to government, Professor Falola called for a national agricultural policy that encourages small farmers and limit cash crops, adding that agricultural policies should also include environmental protections, equal land distribution, and limit foreign land grabs.

The Convocation Lecturer further called on African government to invest in agricultural research as each nation has unique environmental conditions and crops that require information sharing for best practices.

In addition, he charged government to pursue gender reform by investing in women’s education and property rights.

On his recommendations for Universities, Professor Falola said “Universities should produce agricultural research that is relevant to government decisions. The universities should study the roots of food crisis, including political and economic barriers to food security”.

He added that Universities should be political advocate for small-scale agriculture, which according to him has historically been the foundation for national economic success.

“Nigeria’s dependence on the global market to export cash crops and import food threatens its food security. The University should advocate for policies that discourage exportation or foreign exploitation”, he said.

Dignitaries at the event included Professor Emeritus Anthony Asiwaju, who was Chairman of the Lecture; the Chancellor of the University, His Eminence Edidem Ekpo Okon, (Abasi Otu V), the Obong of Calabar; Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council, Dr. Barr. Aboki Zhawa; and Vice Chancellors from various Universities, among others.