It is no longer news that oil revenue has suffered an unprecedented drop globally. Economies largely dependent on oil proceeds have been greatly hit, leading to fluctuations in oil prices to between $35 – $45 per barrel. This has forced our leaders to have a rethink on alternative means of driving our economy from the norm of total oil revenue dependence to seeking out other sectors of the economy.
Although Agriculture has always been an efficient option, evident in pre-oil discovery with great potentials, it has yet to be fully harnessed due to several factors such as change of government, inconsistencies in policies, inadequate implementation of policy, lack of technocrat involvement, little or no laid out plan for the future and a top-bottom approach to policy and implementation.
The question is: Are we prepared, as a nation, for the proposed change in economy source or just faffing around as usual?
What’s the hope of common man in this proposed agricultural drive?
What are the plans to make agriculture a sustainable venture?
Recently, different Agricultural program launches erupted across the country from North, East, West to South.
State governments are getting busy trying to wake their agricultural heritage, from Kebbi state leading the revolution in crop production to Lagos state’s readiness to handle the processing, packaging, mass marketing, distribution and export of agricultural products or produce across the nation. Interest in other states is also encouraging as they plan to be actively involve in Agricultural production, processing, packaging, marketing and distribution.
Amidst all this, a crucial point lacking is the zeal and involvement of able, willing and eager youths in the aforementioned sector of agriculture. Its imperative for every state to look inward and choose agricultural specifics that can emancipate their glut of unemployed or underemployed youths.
Significant agricultural development can only be achieved by marrying the undying love of youths for technological advancement with local content development of agricultural practices. Nigerians are known to be creative individuals. All the government needs to do is provide an enabling environment and a level ground to fuse this creativity into significant development .
To achieve this, government should shun politicizing the projects and allow only the few interested and qualified lots manage or run the affairs else the interest will soon become a burden.
The media also has a role to play in making agriculture a worthy prospect for young lads in secondary schools and colleges across the country. The image of agriculture as a poverty ridden venture needs to be transformed urgently within the society, else the prospect of having any significant progress in Agricultural development will be unachievable. The media needs to focus on historic facts that shaped our country’s fortunes long before the discovery of oil; success stories of individuals involved in agriculture before and after oil discovery etc. these must be broadcasted as mainstream messages far and wide.
Agriculture is a venture that requires time to reap the benefits of its investment based on injected input from human capacity to available resources, capital layout and expertise involvement.
Oyinkanola Mayowa Hafiz
Director, QMFarms Limited