FOOD SECURITY:DON CALLS FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT
By Demola Akinyemi, Ilorin
Former Chief Executive Officer, National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM), Professor Kayode Oni has said that food security in Nigeria can only be achieved through transformation of the rural area.
Prof. Oni asked President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently develop the rural areas through agro-industry and rural-based private sector participation in commercial agriculture.
He noted that applying the strategy of agro-industrialization for national food security will not only ensure adequate supply of our nutritional needs but central to the successful diversification of the economy and income base nation.
The university Don said this has become imperative because the Millennium Development Goals of reducing world's hungry people by 2015 may not be realized as a result of a steady decline in policy attention to agricultural and rural development by the stakeholders.Former Chief Executive Officer, National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM) spoke at the 94th inaugural lecture of the University of Ilorin entitled: Man, Machine and Food Insecurity.
The don stressed further that in order to overcome food crisis situation in the country, all hands must be on deck by all the three tiers of government to ensure that they take agricultural development as a matter of policy in the task of addressing the ugly situation.
Professor Oni who expressed the conviction that these efforts would surely ensure food production for the teeming masses of the country, however said that, 'apart from the factors above, other problems militating against achieving this goal are climate change, energy crunch, financial crisis, economic uncertainty, population growth environmental degradation and a shift in consumption patterns in emerging economies of the world'.
According to him, ' our country possesses the fundamental human, material and institutional resources required to achieve national food security'.He noted that, poverty is the principal cause of hunger and hunger is also a cause of poverty by causing poor health, low levels of energy and mental impatient and thereby limiting the ability of the people to work and learn .
The university don explained: 'For example, poverty in Nigeria is rated absolute poverty for lack of any form of social security in place, no safety net of any sort as the incidence of poverty in Nigeria compares quite favourably with several other African countries that are not even blessed with the kind of natural endowment that Nigeria has.
' He noted that 'the most direct and effective means of raising standard of alleviating poverty, hunger and malnutrition is increasing the productivity and incomes of small-holder farmers in the country that would assist the nation to be transformed into economic growth and development capable of moving the country forward'.
Apart from this, Oni also recommended that, enabling environment for agricultural development should be responsibility of all the tiers of government as the provision of basic infrastructures to rural communities should be intensified in order to reduce rural migration to urban centres and thereby allowing the economy of the rural communities to grow.
He also said that, there must product-development, machines and equipments standardisation, machines and equipments certification, pilot testing of identified machines and equipments, coalition and analysis of shelf sitting machines and equipments, among others .