Please forgive me if I caption this article on what I know which is as the topic heading affects South West Nigeria I will not be surprised if these conditions are not confined to the SW which I know quite well.
I am a 4 th Generation Farmer and a 3 rd Generation Commercial Rural Agriculturalists. I farm various crops , raise and breed Fish and raise and breed other livestock. I have interests in a Soya Food Processing Mill which is running at well below capacity. As I am typing this I have Farmers supply chain of Soya Beans sitting in that Feed Mill waiting for more to grind and extrude, but the suppliers lack capital and the Farmers will not release there little Soya supply without payment.
I see my self as a Farmer who went to Schools and Institutions to learn a trade. That trade became my Profession. Because from age 7, I was made to know the Farm life, At Age 16 I planted 16,000 Agricultural Grade Palm Trees in a Winter / Harmatan Nursery and 7 months later I transplanted them over 100’s of Acres deep in Buffalo infested Forest 30 ft apart in Diamond formation using a few dozen Agatu Contract Farmers. Today, I grow my own Rice, Plantains, Vegetable breed my own Fish and Pigs and By “Passport“ of the opportunity of my chosen Profession, I also work in rural America where I see a lot and ask questions from the Rural Farmers and supply chain participants.
I enter the Bush in Nigeria,Other East and Southern African Countries as a Wildlife Conservationist.As I can put on a Designer Suit and my Borsalino Fedora to an important Meeting in Lagos or Indianapolis, I am at home with a group of Farmers eating from the same Local Green Plantain with Effirin Scrnt Vegetables and Other freshly plucked Vegetables laced with fresh game meat prepared the “non Formulary“ way that only Farmers who hunt can “brew up“ for a Bush Brunch and Round it much later in the Evening with Pounded yam made from boiled Cocoyams and Real Yams with a Plantain or 2 to give its grey hue a palatable taste… eaten with Fresh okra wrestled from the reach of the Bushbuck all with the same Borsalino Fedora on my Head and my Westley Richards Double Rifle leaning next to me. In short I know a bit about agriculture and the Entire Food supply chain and I am still learning. When I talk, I know exactly what I am talking about.
The Alarm I want and feel compelled to sound is that the Agricultural Supply chain in South West Nigeria is on dire straights. Poultry farms, Livestock farms, Soya Farmers, Other Grain Farmers etc are reeling with every aspect of the supply chain bursting with stress at their seams. The Soya Bean and Corn suppliers are all unable to buy the expensive Corn and Soyabean to supply the feed mills and get to the End user, livestock farmers. The reasons are many, however 2 cogent reasons with a 3 rd sinister factor playing into it to Compound it have to be discussed… Fulani Cattle and Cattle driving farm marauders have destroyed so much Farm crops persistently that Grain Farmers are being driven into destitution.
The Rice consortiums ( I am part of a 30 acre Group ) have taken such a Financial Hit as well as been subject to Security Challenges from Armed Fulani Herdsmen who augment their terror with Arson as needed, that they have given up farming Locally Grown Brazilian short stalk high fiber Rice. A Second factor is Capital to Oil the smooth operation of the supply chain. It is not there. The Banks and cooperatives are not putting funds into the Risky disposition Rural Agricultural has become. It was whispered into my ears by a Rural Bank Manager “That too many Bad debits are now the order of the day “.
Finally the 3rd factor is Global Warming that the average rural dweller hasn’t a clue about so he or she cannot relate the fact that the poor rainspread that is causing the Corn that has survived the Fulani’s pillage by Livestock, arson and the management challenges of this Murderous Kidnapping spree is now drying up because of his Neighbours convert conversion of Trees to Charcoal in the clandestine Export Driven Business centered along the Jebba to Ilorin Axis and many other areas of Northern SW Nigeria on the West Bank of the Niger River Area. It has hit home hard in the last 6 weeks with poor rainfall causing an impending crop failure. I saw it In Rural Indiana in 2011, so I know what I am talking about. The problem in Nigeria is that there are no Federal Agricultural Emergency farm relief subsidies etc that the Nigerian Government can extend to our Farmers.
I saw a posting of a Rural Poultry Lady farmer with her piggy back packed child which recently we the is viral with her showing dead chickens on the Floor with the poor lady lamenting her travails … I was hurt and forced to reply a most unfortunate comment “she must have spent her working capital”. The writer of that comment got a nice “pen lashing“ from me.
The fact is that something urgent has to be done and drastic measures have to be put in place. My suggestions to finding and implementing solutions are as follows.
1: The Nigerian Government needs to import large quantities of Grain, Corn/ Maize , Soyabean especially to ease the strain and re- energize the supply chain to the Farmers. The subsidy will restart the Rural Commercial Agricultural Economy which is heading to a total collapse anytime from November if this poor rain spread continues.
2: The Rural Security Situation has to be addressed in earnest because a catastrophic issue of Rural Security causing serious Food Security is unfolding.This goes well beyond the “ Amotekun antics “ of Rotimi Akeredolu and Seyi Makinde.It extends more in the narrative on BBC by Sunday Igboho and Oba Soludero. The Local Farmers and their Hunters need to have a serious High Powered conference ( Covid or no Covid ) with all stake holders present including (International umpires ) from the ADB. Farmers. The rest of the entire Supply Chain representatives as well as Bankers ( who are whispering behind cupped lips while they fear for their jobs), Myetti Allah, Police, DSS, Civil Defense, Agricultural and other Commissioners representation and Federal Ministerial representation as well as Victims represented along with the media and the 1 week Conference must be well publicized. I say this because I see a real emergency unfolding in November/ December. If you add to that the unpredictable scientific realities of “ Virus lasan lasan “ Called Covid -19 in the cold Harmattan months coming. If we don’t do this we are treating a real catastrophic disaster of Famine and Health Insecurity and Food insecurity with levity.
The Federal and State Governments should understand that just as a break down in the supply chain of the Petroleum sector which is well organized and Unionized is intolerable to the Economic Future of Nigeria, So also is a break down of the Supply chain of the Food Security infathomable.The Governments In Nigeria have to act in the next 2-4 weeks and implement far reaching decisions out of this conference among which are the following recommendations.
3: A Federal Government subsidized Importation of Soya Bean and Corn ASAP and on a well planned and structured continuous basis until April next year with the objective to bring the prices down while adequate supply is maintained. That will restart the Farming slump that is getting worse by the day.
4:A total ban on the local Char coal manufacturing Buisness for export . It has gotten completely out of hand and is impacting the Ecology and Weather of SW Nigeria as well as the rest of Nigeria negatively.The Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes Charcoal arguments of Kingsford, Weber and other foreign end users etc need to be supplied by American Charcoal from their forests and their Processing plants.No longer should we allow the Western World to “kick that ecological can down our road in Tropical Africa” while they keep their Forests pristinely watered by rainfall. Our Forests are being denuded to feed the export of local charcoal at the cost of scanty rainfall which we are about to face its dire consequences.
5: There has to be a serious implementation of a “ Zero tolerance “ to Kidnapping, Farm Attacks, Armed Robbery and other such crimes that disrupt the Food Chain.They should carry an Automatic Death Penalty by firing squad and Tribunals should be set up immediately with at least 2-3 in every State where this is going on. It has become nothing short of a National Embarassment as well as a subject of International derision. The key to terminating this “ deliberate aberrant behavior “ is shortening the time between arrest ,trial and implementation of Jugdement. The Tribunals will benefit from a “Data Bank“ of captured small arms serial / Country of manufacture etc, plus a few Miter saws to destroy permanently and take out of circulation each and every AK – 47 recovered from these crime scenes in public view . I say this out of “ education al experience”… In the 60’s and 70’s, there was a respected Cricket Umpire from The Gambia came to Nigeria every International Test Match season. Our Gambian colleagues in University of Ife made me realize that he was of West Indian origin and was a highly respected Senior Magistrate in The Gambia famous for insisting on the destruction of “all forensic evidence in Drug cases“ right outside his court. He was once quoted for making the famous statement when asked why ?…. “The Police will smoke it and sell the rest“…with that little tale,the current suspicion that Illegal Firearms not permanently “disassembled“ by Miter Saws are being re- cycled remains valid by similarity of logic .
4: Other transparent measures as will evolve from this much needed Conference.Our Urban areas in Nigeria are dotted with “ Food Deserts “ The areas that are not food deserts are witnessing less supply of local food and the increase in prices of the available food. We can plan to avoid expanding the causes of “Food Deserts“. Lack of Access to Food and and inability to afford the available food which is fast dwindling from the multiple supply chain disruption.
Like the sailors say, All hands on deck, So too should the Federal Government give it the same seriousness they would give the disruption of the Petrol and Diesel Oil Supply Chain. After all, what is more important Sirs and Mesdames, feeding petrol and Diesel to Engines or feeding the People, especially our young hungry bellies nutritious food. If The Petrol and Diesel Supply chain was threatened, the “Governance alliance” would be working full throttle to ensure it does not get disrupted….. Why should the same “ Governance Alliance “ treat a problem of much greater importance with so much levity ?. ….. Over to the Governance Alliance for an answer…… Tempus Fugit. We are fast approaching a simple situation where the Farmer is unable to produce food in quantities or at a price the People can afford.
John Mabayoje MD