I know we are in hard times ever in human history. But do not become a criminal.
We are in times where MONEY cannot save lives due to a novel coronavirus attack that killed millions of people, young and old globally and since the virus is spread through contacts with infected persons, citizens of all nations are asked to stay indoors indefinitely till health experts would come out with approved vaccine.
My concern as a Farmer is not really on vaccination because medical doctors/specialist are working tirelessly to put a final stop to the spread of the virus.
I am seriously concern about our human population in Africa, who will feed a population estimated to be over 1.3 billion mouths? That is the toughest question begging for an answer and we a yet to provide.
In Nigeria, we usually import most of the food consumed in the country and all land, air, and water borders are closed indefinitely which means we have to feed on the available food produce by our rural farmers using traditional tools.
For example; the home demand for Rice as of 2019 was estimated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development to be 6.3 million tonnes and the supply by our dear farmers was 2.3 million tonnes. By implication, the country needs to import rice to compliment the deficits.
The home demand for Wheat was reported to be 4.7 million tonnes and the local supply was 0.06 million tonnes, here again, our country must import to meet up our demand.
Demand for Maize/corn was recorded to be 7.5 million tonnes and supply by our local farmers was 7.0 million tonnes.
I have a small rice processing factory and I can tell that our rice farmers alone cannot produce enough paddy for a population estimated to be over 200 million mouths due to the farming inputs they use during cultivation, therefore our local rice farmers need financial support so they can increase their production.
With the best of my knowledge as a practising farmer, arable land is not our problem in Nigeria, we don’t have the financial strength to practice mechanize agriculture.
We have more than 3 videos trending on social media recently of hungry Nigerians attacking trucks transporting food items, is sad and some Nigerians have come out to say, such behaviours is a criminal act not just hungry for food. The sad reality is, over 60% of Nigerians feed from hand-to-mouth, they do not have savings account with money that can feed them for 14 days shutdown.
Strive Masiyiwa wrote an article on the 5 greatest challenges we will face in Africa after defecting Coronavirus pandemic and Food Security was one of them.
Strive Masiyiwa asserted, “Africa imported food worth around US$50billion last year. It was everything — rice, maize, beef, chicken, fish and much more. With our exports like oil and tourism smashed, we don’t have the money to import food.The shortage of foreign exchange will likely also lead to high food prices across the board. Several countries that export food like rice and maize have suggested they are going to ban exports until the situation improves. Local Agriprenuers, this is your time! We have to grow and trade our own food!
If prices of basic commodities shoot up in some parts of the world, it could lead to rioting or worse”.
We can clearly witness that the rioting has started and we are still battling to defect coronavirus with new cases of people confirmed positive rise daily in Nigeria and Africa at large. And my fear as a farmer is this, we not are permitted to go visit our farms during the lockdown days, no security for our investments, no support from our government in terms of providing farmers with needed inputs and planting season is NOW!.
What will be our faith in terms of food security next week, month, and next year?
With our crude oil becoming valueless daily in the global market, where can our government generate revenue, import food enough to feed over 200 million mouths to their satisfaction?
To a young Nigerian reading this article, You Are Your Government. I lack words to give you advice on what to do, but desist from criminal act of attacking your fellow Nigerian struggling to survive, we are in this together.
Let us hold our leaders accountable not our fellow struggling Nigerians. Most importantly, we will survive this period and life will return to normal.