Obasan Taiwo James-Yakub
Department of Economics,
University of Lagos, Nigeria.
Agricultural activities accounts for over half of the world’s productive labour. It involves the primary sector of the economy and is often saddled with the sustenance of the citizenship. Though as beautiful, vital and cogent as the role agriculture plays in any economy, why has Nigeria not given it rapt attention, why is Nigeria not making adequate use of the vast agricultural resources endowed her. What really went wrong in such a promising sector?
These and many others are questions which calls for a change in a once flourishing and robust economy. The reversal attitude given to the sector in recent times can be seen by comparing the rate of emphasis laid on agriculture in national dailies in the early 1960s to 1980s and in recent times; how bad is it that when I was glancing through big national dailies, I could not find a section for a sector as gigantic and productive as the agricultural sector whereas they kept on complaining about food shortage and diversification of the economy. All I can read was less productive news and sycophancy, politics, business, capital market, Fashion, entertainment, bla bla bla whereas the primary sector I’d left unattended to, this has contributed on encouraging Nigeria on depending on international communities.
Nigerians and the government keep on complaining on low investment in agriculture by foreign and local investors when an adage says that as youngsters your bed so you lie on it and my people do say that people will carry your calabash the way you do carryout yourself. If you tune in to the Chinese Television CCTV, you will notice that their programmes, orientation and adverts are people oriented and tilts towards national growth and development. Before you watch the channel for three hours, you would have seen nothing less than thirty minutes adverts on their nation, it’s economy making tourism and agriculture a great thing to invest in but here we focus on politics, electioneering, even to the extent of image laundering instead of the primary activities that will benefit the entire citizenry and the economy at large.
Fetus Keyamo (2014) said that Nigerian system is cues towards protecting the relics of the system, so the economic system is designed by the powers that be to make themselves and their rich friends richer and the masses poorer.
Often times, it is argued that the land filled with honey and milk has been misconcepted by the foreign states but Tunji ajibade in his article titled Nigeria there, South Africa here, opined that the Nigerian missions abroad should correct all ignorance and misconceptions about Nigeria and should stop enjoying immunity for selfish reasons at the expense of their nation’s development. He opined that Nigerian diplomats should concentrate on the advantages Nigeria has especially in the agricultural sector and encourage compatriots to exploit them to bring goodies back home, for people and country’s economic growth and development.
Eric Teniola in the same vein opined that great leaders are better remembered and admired after their demise, more for services provided, the goodwill they cultivated, the structures they were able to build while in power, the amenities they were absent put into place, more than the billions of naija and dollars they looted in power. So if the land filled with honey and milk should flourish, the leaders must be committed and devoured to their people, there must be at least a sense of belonging to the poor and the masses and as Malls Mohammed Amino Kano has said, a party seeking the emancipation of the talakawa (commoners) must naturally be hostile to the party of the oppressors.
The solution to all our problems are too simple for us to comprehend haven been hewn from a complex mix of abuse and neglect.
Such is the case of this land filled with honey and milk but which greediness and bad governance has turned into a desert
Good governance is the product of rethinking how to govern and the relationship between state and society. According to Ernest Is Anasazi (2014) the people as citizens of a community must be able to participate efficiently and effectively in decisions concerning their welfare. The participation of as many people as possible creating, implementing and monitoring decisions is an essential foundation of governance. To achieve, the people must be informed and organized, knowing that the participatory approach to planning involves all member of civil society and provides the best assurance of community "buying" to the planning process.
But neither is the case in Nigeria, it is still operating clandestinely under the sense of neocolonialism, hegemony, favoritism, nepotism, and corruption. Even the laws of the land were tuned to suit the various power gladiators. A great example is the Land Use Act which has only succeeded in entrusting lands in the hand of corrupt and short sighted leaders that have laundered states resources and riders the states of its properties, increased land speculations by selling arable lands to friends who hoard lands for selfish financial interest and private reasons. Example is the estranged hijacking of over 5 acres of land filled with cocoa, pineapple and other cash crops from the local people of a tiny village known as Liwo in the town of Ago IWOYE, OGUN state by the Federal Prisons Commission for Prisons farm thereby forcing majority out of farming thereby increasing their mysteries which has left many families economically crippled. In respect to the aggregate economy, this led to great decrease in agriculture output, increase in unemployment as farmers are left with no land to farm on which nay lead to increase in social vices and above all has successfully put the fear of been override by the government in others thereby discouraging them in putting much effort in farming.
The government inability to adequately country it’s boundary on what cones in and out of our economy also have significant input and impact in the fall of the agriculture sector.
A man that does not learnt from his own mistakes will be stagnant all his life, also a religious book says that ask for the ancient path and tread in it. Nigeria as a country always accounts it’s problems and retardness to its history without taking into cognisance and comparison the new Nigeria and her mistakes.
For a countries at low-income end of scale like Nigeria where GDP per person is low, if most of its labour is concentrated on utilising its enormous land resources into farming, it will reduce drastically the amount of the import and bring about favourable balance of trade since food consumption and importation accounts for a large shuck of total expenditure.
Engels law says the share of food on consumption expenditure declines as income increases. And we all know that income elasticity of demand for food becomes much less than one as income rises above subsistence levels. Hence, as incomes rises, the share of expenditure on food rises less than proportionately. As the demand for non agricultural goods and services grows proportionately more than the demand for agricultural commodities, fewer resources are attracted into production. In addition, agriculture’s share, and especially the farming sector’s share of the GDP and of employment of the economy’s resources fall; this is also a great termite devouring the land flowig with milk and honey.
The government should try to diversify transportation sector by providing infrastructures and amenities such as roads, railroads, harbours, canals, waterways etc. to places where it is mostly needed that is where agricultural production are been made without any bias as this will allow more efficient movement of inputs to the farm and output from the farm.
Extremely important too is the role of government, they are to provide institutional infrastructure and privileges, give farmers utmost respect and importance in the society, set up various functional and operatives farming boards, advice and encourage urban farming, strengthen farmers and their farm lands with laws that that will protect them from external aggressions, cattle rustlers, nomadic terrorists, land speculators and other farm criminals.
Also, the enforcement and enactment of rules and regulations governing market participation, providing low tax incentives, loans with low interests, creation and strengthened Banks of Agriculture, bilateral and multilateral diplomatic agreements with advanced agriculture-centered countries to teach and mentor farmers at the lowlest of places, prevention against cartels, monopolists and oligopolists,
The government should help in the area of researches, studies and Grant support to private entities providing and conducting these researches.
Science and technology such as biotechnology products, genetically modified organisms GMO, information technology and other agricultural promoting services should be encouraged, supported, promoted but with adequate monitoring. Then this Land Nigeria can flow of honey and milk again.