Is small scale farming the answer?

By Jackie Opara 8671574915_eeeb3395b1_z It is no news that 168 million Nigerians have to feed everyday following the recent release by the National Population Commission, it is equally no news that Nigeria has an expansive landmass covering 923.771 square kilometres, an estimated arable land mass of about 68 million hectares, large quantity of natural forest and rangeland covering 37 million hectares, coastal and marine resources of over 960 kilometres of shoreline, expansive rivers and lakes covering 120,000 square kilometres and agriculture friendly climate. With this statistics Nigeria should comfortably feed her citizens and even extend to the world but this is not the case as there seems to be a steady decline in agricultural produce in Nigeria. It is a cause of worry indeed especially because Nigeria imports food worth billions of naira annually. The United Food and Agriculture rates the productivity of Nigeria’s farmland as low to medium but with medium to good productivity if properly managed. Therefore, there is need to proffer solutions that will aid the agricultural sector in Nigeria ’’A decentralized farming model in which average families with land grow at least some crops on the family parcel has always been the most effective way for societies as a whole to avoid some of the devastating consequences of famine, blight, economic upheaval, and other disaster scenarios that would otherwise wipe out a centralized food supply in an instant. Backyard farms, after all, are what saved many Nigerian families from starvation during the Civil War, and they are precisely what will save families around the world today’’. In my recent chat with experts at the flavour of Abuja food festival conference recently in Abuja on how to effectively curb hunger in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, it was concluded that small-scale farming seems to be the only way to drive away hunger and it has become imperative that there should be a widespread reawakening about the importance of small scale farming in both developing and developed countries As it is now small scale farming is looking like the answer, if everything is put in place to make it work effectively in Nigeria, it will go a long way to save agriculture from the greed-driven profit systems. There are a number of ways through which this can happen, the most been that small-scale farming methods promote individuals rather than corporate ownership of food. Small-scale bio-diverse farming methods require fewer pesticides and herbicides to produce quality food and when utilized in balance with nature small scale farming produces much more nutritious food with higher vitamin and mineral content which would ultimately translate into decreased human reliance on pharmaceutical drugs and other high cost healthcare resources. Families and communities benefit more when they grow their own food on their own land. Small-scale farming is really the only viable, long-term solution to the problems of malnutrition and starvation, as both self-reliance and diversified food production remain the two most effective ways to maintain societal stability and survival, particularly in times of crisis and most importantly economies will thrive when small scale farmers are able to take control. According to reports from many sources, small scale farming in Nigeria has not been so effective because of the unequal access to key recourses and low level investment as well as high dependence of oil and gas. It should take so much to correct any anomaly in small scale farming is it really that we come into the full awareness of what is starring us in the face. Many Nigerians live below one dollar a day! It is saddening that a country with so much abundant resources has hunger everywhere. Developed countries are already in this awareness and are already taking steps to eradicate any form of food shortage, we need to brace and wake up to this reality on ground PHOTO CREDIT -USAID Flicker


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