Don’t neglect agriculture 

Agriculture holds the key to economic  development for most sub-Saharan 

countries including Nigeria. This is because it contributes immensely to the growth and development of such sub-Saharan economies.

It provides food and raw materials to the non-agricultural sectors of the economy, employment opportunities to a vast majority of the unemployed and serves as an avenue by which valuable foreign exchange can be earned through the export of agricultural products.

Agriculture can work in harmony with other sectors to produce faster growth, reduce poverty, and sustain the environment by its contribution to development as an economic activity, as a livelihood, and as a provider of environmental services, making the sector a unique instrument for development. 

The agriculture sector has the potential to be the industrial and economic springboard from which a 

country‘s development can take off. Thus, the importance of the agriculture sector to the development and growth 

of any economy cannot be over emphasised and that is why many nations place great importance on its development and enhancement. 

Historically, agriculture in Nigeria has been the most important sector of the economy based on the fact that our

ancestors were sustained primarily on farming as their major occupation although it was with the aid of crude 

implements compared to what is obtained today. 

Yet, they were not just able to produce food crops such as yam, 

cassava, maize, millet, sorghum and soya beans, etc for their personal consumption so that there was no need for food importation, but Nigeria was considered the major exporter of agricultural produce such as palm produce, cocoa, groundnut, cotton and rubber. Despite the limitation of using crude implements they were able to respond accordingly to the demand of their times.

Sadly, relentless waves of attacks against farmers in Nigeria by armed groups is hindering critical food supplies and threatening to push the country deeper into a devastating hunger crisis this year. The attacks against farmers across the country are leading to displacement, market disruptions and loss of livelihoods. 

Nigeria is currently at a crossroads. Without taking immediate action, the number of Nigerians who are food insecure will continue to increase. More than 5.9 million children in North-west and North-east Nigeria experienced acute malnutrition between May 2022 and April 2023. More than 1.6 million of these children suffered from severe acute malnutrition. 

Unless concerted efforts are put in place this year to accelerate food production, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that 26.5 million people will be in danger of acute food insecurity.

Millions of these people are from the North. The international body revealed that states such as Borno, Sokoto, and Zamfara including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are at bigger risk. God forbid. 

In May last year, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu pledged to implement best global practice to address the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen in the country. These modern practices include building agricultural hubs to enhance productivity, guaranteeing minimal prices for certain crops and animal products, and creating storage facilities to reduce food waste. 

Nigerians are eagerly awaiting Mr President to walk his talk. Amidst growing concern of looming hunger in the country, government needs to ramp up effective strategies to address lingering insecurity in the country.

The government should also adopt a multi-faceted approach to address the food insecurity crisis. This kind of approach needs to integrate climate action, modern livestock and farming techniques, and security measures to mitigate the impacts of climate change and violent conflicts on Nigeria’s food security.

Ibrahim Mustapha,

Pambegua, Kaduna state