Experts Call for Policies to Avoid Food Crisis

Ade Adefeko

Raheem Akingbolu

Stakeholders in the agric sector have called for government’s consistent in agricultural policies and substitution of imports with locally grown produce, to avoid food crisis and enhance the local Agribusiness in Nigeria.

Vice President Corporate and Government Relations at Olam Nigeria, Ade Adefeko, who has been consistent in canvassing that government must be an enabler and a catalyst, told THISDAY that the industry look good in Nigeria if governments at various levels would partner with the private sector to drive the industry growth.

“Government must be an enabler and a catalyst. At various levels, they should offer infrastructure support and policy guidance and direction but the private sector must be the engine and driver of whatever growth we want to see in the sector.

“For sustainability and taking it from one generation to the other, Nigerian youths and young graduates need to re-orientate themselves and see agriculture as a serious business and not a part time vocation.

“They should strive to plug into different aspects of the value chain; production, processing, technology, finance, logistics and distribution as well as research and development amongst a plethora of areas seeking their intervention. What we will be witnessing post-Covid-19 will be a new normal that will require innovation and require us doing things differently,” Adefeko said.

Adefeko pointed out that the last few months confirmed the vibrancy of the local agricultural sector because most of the food products used as palliatives was sourced locally.

He added: “A very interesting development and a welcome one too. A lot of the palliatives my company -Olam offered; Rice, Noodles, Macaroni and Spaghetti as well as tomato paste were produced from our stable. Nigeria’s capacity to produce has never been in doubt what we lack is storage capacity and our inability sometimes to add value to our crops and produce. This you might say boils down to our organisational capacity to get these things done.

Adefeko, who predicted a likely food crisis if stakeholders fail to act fast on promoting growth in the industry, said infrastructure and incentives to farmers, would boost agriculture.

“I am of the firm opinion we are unlikely to face a food crisis but we might need to have a palette change as we have all that it takes, arable land and labour but what we might want to add to it is the know-how with respect to yield improvement and capacity building to enhance production.

“For instance, we are a leading player in the African food value chain. Number 1 producer of Cassava, Groundnut, cocoyam and sweet potato on the continent. We need to harness this effectively and efficiently ensuring value addition to make our commodities or produce semi- finished or finished products,” he stated.

Another expert and Chairman of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Sanni Dangote, also urged government to task relevant agencies of government to work with the drive sector in driving the growth of the Agribusiness. “I believe the government should get all the relevant government ministries and agencies and CBN, Bank of Agriculture, bank of industry and of course, the Nigerian Agric Business Group (NABG), to work together and work out a national agricultural production plan.

Sanni, who also spoke on the need for government to remain consistent with its agricultural policies further push substitution of imports with locally grown produce to deepen Agricultural development in the country.