Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Nigeria will not experience food crisis in 2017 – expert

An Agriculture economist, Dr Alexander Coker, says in spite of the recession, Nigeria will not experience food crisis in 2017 considering the policies of  the Federal Government.
Coker spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja at an African Economic Conference with the theme, “Feed Africa through agro-allied industrialisation’’.
The conference was organised by African Development Bank (AfDB), UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
Coker, a Lecturer at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, said the agriculture sector had been moving up for the past six years with the kind of policies implemented in the sector.
“The issue is that the way we have been moving upward, starting from the period of Agriculture Transformation Agenda in 2011; we have really re-awakened the sector.
“We have achieved a lot, especially in the area of using technology to provide inputs for farmers.
“We were able to reach a lot of farmers to promote agro industrialisation through a Staple Crop Zone.
“If we follow up with consistent policies on some of the initial interventions, Nigeria will not experience food crisis,’’ Coker said.
He described the current policies of the government as positive.
“I am happy with what the current administration has done. They have come with a roadmap to look at the gap from Transformation Agenda, trying to build on it.’’
He, however, admitted that investment in the sector would not be enough to achieve food security.
The expert said it was imperative to invest in the sector as articulated in the 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security.
The Maputo Declaration was launched as a response to the stagnation of African agriculture.
The signatories to the declaration agreed that 10 per cent of public expenditure should be spent on agriculture in an effort to increase agricultural productivity.
According to him, Nigeria will not experience food shortage even if it has not met up with the declaration.
“When you have a scenario when you have a lot of overhead and there are other competing sectors, how do you want to achieve 10 per cent in agriculture?
“What is going into agriculture is so minimal that may not be able to cause the changes we desire but there are other interventions that will help to fill the gaps.
“Some of these development inventions are already going on in Nigeria; the only problem is that the interventions have not been able to link or support the sector effectively.’’
The expert, however, called on the stakeholders to support the effort of the government as government could not do it alone.
He said there should be innovative approach to financing to boost food security in the country.

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