Prof. Omotoye Olorode of Odoje Biodiversity Centre, Ogbomoso in Oyo, has recommended the adoption of pragmatic approach, including meaningful rural development, toward the attainment of sustainable food security in Nigeria.
Olorode made the recommendation on Friday in a paper he presented at the ninth convocation of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia, entitled, “Political economy of agriculture, environment and food security in Nigeria.
He said that food security in Nigeria “will be impossible to guarantee without authentic people-based rural development under the direct control of rural dwellers.”
He further canvassed the need to prioritise production for local consumption of agricultural products over production for export and the protection and conservation of local crops and livestock.
He said that production for export “seems to be a mantra, arising from the uncertainties over oil production and export as forex earner.”
The emeritus professor of Botany also said that to achieve food security, there was a need to trigger of factors that would help to boost accessibility of food and its utilisation among consumers, especially in the urban centres (with access to power, income and education).
According to him, “Rural economy is not just about agricultural production, it must be about rural development in its totality.”
He said that such development should include infrastructure, mobilisation for collective action and cooperation on all issues, including health, security and reinvention of producers’ cooperatives as a basis for economic and political power for rural dwellers.”
He further recommended that “authentic land reforms must be carried out to achieve democratised land ownership.
“The existing Land Use Act serves only privileged citizens! And this is not just about patriarchy, matriachy or gerontocracy!,” Olorode said.
He contended that “No individual, class or group, nation or generation should take from the collective patrimony and common endowments of the environment more than it needs.”
He therefore advocated “immediate and drastic reduction and ultimate elimination of exploitation and inequality,” with regard to agricultural productivity, environmental protection and food security.
He said that there should be democratic control of resources, “especially funds, planning and execution of projects by the farmers themselves and by their own organisations.”
He said that external interventions must rely on the farmers’ vision, initiatives and experiences, moving forward.
“The application of Science and Technology must strike a long term balance between agricultural productivity and protection of the environment in all its ramifications of inputs, scale and practice,” he said.
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Francis Otunta, expressed profound thanks to the lecturer for his incisive and indepth research work.
Otunta said that the lecture had added to the body of existing knowledge on how to achieve food security in Nigeria and hoped that it would be deployed into effective use by other researchers, the nation’s policy makers and implementers.
(Edited & Vetted By: Sam Oditah)