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August 16, 2018

Time for Another Green Revolution

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With the nation in dire need of an economic overhaul or rather an economic revolution, it is time the Federal Government stopped paying lip service to farming and got on with the job of diversifying the economy, through agriculture which, undoubtedly, is the key to Nigeria’s economic growth and development.
The oil boom which started in the late 70’s made the country to ‘lose the plot’ in Agriculture. Nigeria became so dependent on crude oil and ditched all about farming.
It has long been recognised that the nation’s real wealth lies in farming, livestock, hatcheries, fishery, horticulture and forestry the question is what are we doing about it?  Successive governments have said that Nigeria has the potential to produce what it eats and become the bread basket of West Africa but it all ended there.
Nigerians must go back to the land and embrace farming yet again, especially now it is clear that the nation cannot stand firm until it can feed itself. Luckily, the rains are here and so is the farming season.  If Nigeria ever needed a Green Revolution and serious Operation Feed the Nation, it is now!   Nigerians are hungry.
No nation can be truly great without the ability to feed itself. It is important to remind the Federal Government that millions of Nigerians cannot afford three square meals per day. From all indications, agriculture, well supported and managed, can put food on many tables and also help turn around the economy.
We must admit, especially here in Igboland, that we made a mistake when we lured our youths and university graduates out of agriculture and ridiculed farming as something for the poor and illiterate. Now the chickens have come to roost. We depend on others for virtually everything. Even our main stable “garri” is fast slipping from our hands. How much is a cup of garri today?  The white-collar jobs we leaned on are no longer there and the price of oil has crashed in the international market. Things are hard for Nigerians.
We must now admit, as a people and nation, that we committed a blunder when we started to disparage agriculture and farming and taught our youths to do the same thing. The country must make a U-turn where agriculture is concerned and carry the youths along, not by way of developing a slogan but through sensible pursuit of concrete agricultural policies, well supported by the Federal Government.
It is now clear that our mono-economy is a time bomb. Everyone agrees it is time to diversify the economy; but can we diversify while still importing everything, even the ones we can comfortably produce locally? Nigeria has the largest food bill for imported rice, wheat and even dairy products.  To cut it down, we must develop our local potentials.
We remember the “Operation Feed The Nation” and the Green Revolution” of past governments, efforts made to bring the nation on the right path to sustainable food production.  These were measures that ran out of gas no soon than they started.
President Muhammadu Buhari has noted that his predecessors pursued half-hearted policies filled with inconsistencies and discontinuities.  “We developed a mono-product economy and lost opportunities to diversify in the past. We have great potentials for agriculture and solid minerals. We are now determined to exploit them to the fullest,” he said recently.
Having recognised the problem, we expect him to do better. But he must know that Nigerians do not need a rehash of the problem but facing it.
Our problem is never the absence of bright ideas but haphazard implementation.  The Buhari administration has prioritised agriculture and food security as a basis for socio-economic development, we commend them.  They must now lead the charge while the state, banks and other stakeholders follow. No more slogans! What we want are solutions being properly implemented from roots to the branches, for if we kill agriculture, we kill the nation.


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