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Nigeria can do to tackle agric problems us based

Hoyejo Ade{uye is a Nigerian-bom.. but United States of AmericlJ!I-trained Professor of agriculture with special interest in agricultural extension and rural sociology. He was the former HeafJ.- o/ Department. Agricultural Extension and Rural Sociology, DIsbisf Onabanjo UnJversity (OOU), Agolwoye, OgtL'! State, between 1989 and 1991. He became the SulrDean, College 01 Agricultural ScJence 01 tIle same University, between 1991 and 1995 after. which he finally relocated to the USA in 2005. AdeFuye. WIIO is the C'Ul7'ent Head 01 Department of Sociology, TeK.!S OJlIege. USA.. spoke with Tn"bune AgriruHure on wIly the problems confrontingihe nation's agricultural sector persist. and highlighted strnteg~es and approaches which he said would lead Nigeria out of the woods. Excerpts:

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OU left. tIte shores 01 this country when you discovered that you were not comfortable with tile myriads of problems facing tile nation's agricultural sectors despite several efforts by eJCf!f!cfS 10 tackle them. Do you Ilave the feelings that Utings have started changing or have changed lor good Sill~ you leh Nigeria lor USA? Wcll, WI." could 5<ly that things are ge tting better or ch angi n g cl'nsidering seve ra l developmental progr.unmes on ground, but I would also sa)' lhat if con: rertoo efforts were applied to solve lhe problems, N igeria has the potential 10 be a v~ry great nation in the world. But my observation is that we are still p.1}'ing lipscrv:ire to the development of agrirulture. Do you think the present 8ovt'..J11ment could 6x or get nOd of the obstacles on the path of the nation becomins a giant agricultural nalion.? Well, we oow have a Minister o f Agrirulture who m I regarded as a 9-~ (!l(pcrt/tcdUlOCl'ilL Ukew~ Ihe state m.inister. II the')" rouId do the right thing. I want to relieve they wou ld tab> the niltion to 11 greater heighL But myadvire is~tlheyshol.!ld notbe ministersolfertili..o:erprocurement and di.<:tribution alone, neither should the present mini.sre!" find FcdemJ Gcwernment pay lip servia! to th!! sector like StmK' f-'rt'vinus ministers did. Do you have practicable solutions to Nigeria's agricultural problems judging from your experience as a respected technocrat and leacher in USA.. especially as e don in a popul;u univetliity lJJre Texas

College, USA? 11'Io1ve wha t rould be described as a small but pl"l.'dse,. practio1ble, cufllprehensive I1!a)Inmendatioll for the Nigcri.J government. H Ihe Pn':Slel1t govemment would embrace and adopt them, Tbelieve our problems would be solved. The rerommendatimo; are h.ighlighled below: • The govenulIent should think outside the box What do ( mean by this? Agricultural development should be ~l as a proccs:s and not a project. For tho COI1('efJI or s takeholdl!l'S, every Nigerian should be seen and trusted as a stakeholder in Nigeria'S agrirultural development aud food security programme. "TIlt' fact th.1t.some people or sedofl5 are being left out Of" excluded from the pnXl'S'iol finding solutions toa myriad of agrirultural prt'blcms meant that whatever solution thm! is \\touklllOI t'nPl' widespread support across board,. "hestated.

There should be hegemonic relationship hehveen governmental ilgencics ilnd filrmers. Governmental agencies, it should be noled, o ften treat fanners as junior partners in agrirultul"ill developmcllL (have also observed thai arn'55 to farmers' willingness to obey fully or partially the dictates of the suppliers (gQvcmmenial ~) of the inputs. TIlt' inlernits of the sponsors of agriculturni progrnrnmes(govemmental agt'ncies)arep.-uamOlUlt and are being pushed w iUlIlUt opportunities for rompeting ideas. If any farmer desires acr:ess 10 inputs like fertili5ers, herbicides. pesti<ide;. trnctors, loans,. etc. Ult' farmer must be willing to play along and do whatever he has been told. Instcad of assisting farmers todo whate\'eI" they \vish to do well govemmenlal agendc:s in U-.c rountryoflcn teU Ih!m what \0 do which may not be in Ult' farmers' best in\cn'sl. And for the food secUrity programme of the government 10 beo::ofne a reality, UIt' don asked, whose food security are \~ actually t<tlkillg about? n-.c Federal Government IlaSller food security agenda. the same is true of individual farmers. But as long as there are divergencies in the dermilion and rJlCiming of food security, niltionallood seCurity cannot be adlicved. Our leaders failed 10 realise that private/individual investmetlt in agrirullureis inlluenc:ro by th~ planning horizon o f individual farmer (compilred to a lhirtyfive year old) may not invest in any new product. process, or idea if the payb.Kk period for return on investment is 25 to 30. r'OOd Security U (individual drcu/llStiula5)-lndividua.! cirrumstancl's.. itshoukl be undl..'!SIood, play importanl roles in fanners' decision to plant certain crops. \-Vhate\.~ Ult'denHlnd of the gov~mmental agencies,. farmer are still OOliSilted tofeed their families the Wily they see fit.lhcy will only comply \\iUl the demands of govemment.tl agencies to enab1ethemao:ess lOtll"l!ded inputs. MajorityofNigerian mffilCIS are not monocultwal in term of agrirultura1 production and attempts to change them may not meet tJ-.cir full approval r-ood Xouity III (Eronomic realities) - Every famler, like everyolle else, tries 10 hedge against the vagaries of the local. regional, and intemiiltional eronomic oonditiOllS. Thus, fanners would plant crops Ihat would su ~tai]'l or slabili5e UlCIT\ during tough eronomic times,. Le. ocrording to their own forecast (understanding of !he economic diUK' iss\Je of national food Sl'CUrity not wiUlSlanding. . . . ,VithQut

This is anothi!r problem ronfmnting our agricultwa! .'lI'ctor Ul~cenlelltingour~~lLProksoor Adefu~expI<Iincd

that our farmers have been tokl to adapt innovations, adding U'\at \vc must be willing IOa$islUIt' famlelS to adapt ternno!ogXs £rom other fields 10 f1lt.'t.'t u-.cir rl.'Cds. f-or example, riding lawn mowers, g.ra'iS trirruners. etc. Need for importatio n of used trac tors - Tractor.; (whether new or used) acrordillg to til(' expert. are ill short su pply in tlK' country. A 101 of vehicle imporlels bring L"l used vehicles but not used lrador$ o r implements. " But I would advise the govemment to make it (;om· pulsary or mandilte the importers to make sure thai they import tractors ilt a C't!rt ai n percentage (say five per cent) o f their lotal import in order to make tractors in'i1ilabte in the rounlry for farmers' use. Moreover, s mall scale farmers produced Ihe bulk of food consumed in N igeria. l1l1." focus, however, should be on helping the small-scale farmers do wha teve r they do more efficiently by providing good fann -to-market roads, tax breaks from agricultural produce hau lers es pecial1y o n farm -to-markel roads, estab lishment of more produC't! markets, making scales, produce pK'Se rva tion technologies, elc, more affordable. TIlCre is also UlC need for srnal1 ganien tillers and other tools th.1t are well-5tuted for srt'lol11 SGlle production. L"Uld consolidation - SmaIl farm size is a major preblem in an a llempt to mechanised agriculture in Nigeria esperially in the South-West axis of the country. Stale govemment s hould therefore endeavour to purchase small

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5 man)' NigeriallS and fa..-ujefS intmsi~v.ir call on the state~telllsintheOOlIll-.

try to resuscita1e farm settlementsprogramme/projedin order to ch-eJcp the nation's

objectives of food security cw.ld be achievOO, some agrirultural experts have also knI the voices to the on-going clarion call. The director, L:adoke Akinlola University olTed1-

agrio.t!tural sernr 50 that thec-"=,,-,(A ;CUTE;;:;;Cll ;:,;,)T.~

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-Dr. Adegboye Togun

twa! Sernces limired ~ Dr Adegboye Togun. has said that it is impe'f<ltive we go bade: to the Fann Settle1'ilt'I1t project if we want agrirulture development in the country, espccialJ y in the South-West axis Of tilt' coon-

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TIle expert ~ained that stale gtY\-ertlOf5 in the countryshould beplevailed upon and if possible, persuaded by agriculture experts to embrace the idea of resusci taling farm settlement. adding that the country is loosing aged practicing farmers m ajorilY. of whom are the real or practising farmers producing greater percentage of the food commodities \ve are eating. According to Dr . Adegboye, food security problem has to do will-. food . distribution and not food in-

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sufficiency. Therefore, we roads to.sell audio and video must do everything Possible , compact disk (VCDs). hawk10 keep the food distnbution ing Tokimbo dothes. Our pmass going.. otherwise. we government need 10 act fast. may soon experienre food we need to do everything crisis of greater dimmsion. possible to stimulate the inIn his word, 'Tm afraid terest of our youths in farmbecause we ilre fast loosing ing. we need to encourage our productive hand's in Ule and give them UlI:' neressary nation's agriculture sector. support lo embrace farmi:!lg. l11ese hands are the aged otherwise, we are pla,,{ing farmers whim we all know with food shortage, i not an.> the one producing bulk food oisis in the country, he . of our foods. But we are not stated. tIainlng,entDUrilgingor findOn wl'\at 10 do to prevent ing replacement for this pro- this looming food ai.o;i$, Dr ductive 1'Io1nds in .the agricu1- Togun advised stale gcven1turesedo£. ment togo back to farm sett1eThe lew remaining aged ment project/programme, practicing farmers are tired just as he advised the goverand .....-cak,. but it is very Wl- norsof theSouth-West stalt'S fortunate Ihat our youths that allUlt')' need to do is to who supposed to be replac- res uscitate the alread y ing the weak and tired aged misbound farm sett1ements filllJle[S are busy riding ~ in their stales which was Im<yd", (Obda) p."ru"g e;terbIished by IIlI:' late sage. wheel barrow on major Olie! Cl:lafemi Awolowo.

farms outright and cunsolidate them inlo larger fanns lhat can s upport mechanised agriculture. Professor Adefuye also suggested that th is should be a gradual process so as not to produC't! large-scale unemployment. In his words. "asan alt.emative.total holding of a fl1rmer or family s ho uld be consolidated inlo o ne location within the local gnvemment aTCa w ith considefiltion for types of crops being raL<:cl. Moreover, lhisshould notbe used as an opportunity for land speculators, government officials. or other innuentia! citizens to grab and dispossess local farmers of Uleir lands, "he advised. In conclusiof\. the dOll wanted gardeners and parttime funners 10 be gh."('Tl the opportunities 10 p.1l1icipal!."in agricultural production especially in the urban and near-urban environments.


NIGERIAN TRIBUNE, 16 AUGUST, 2011