COMMENTARY: Nigeria’s plans for food security

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The federal government of Nigeria has announced plans to implement a “Young Graduate Commercial Farmers Scheme” in 2013 as part of a revolutionary agricultural program that will help the country achieve self sufficiency in the agricultural sector, according to the Nigeria Exchange News.

At a press conference, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, Ph.D., was quoted as saying, “The year 2013 will be Nigeria’s year of glory, a year of manifestation and positive changes in all facets of the nation’s life. President Goodluck Jonathan will fix Nigeria, there will be a significant forward progress in the economy of Nigeria through massive job creation in different sectors."

This sounds just like the rhetoric that comes from government leaders of Third World nations. The Nigeria Exchange News went on to quote Okupe, but low and behold there wasn’t any explanation of how the young graduate scheme will work. (It seems so appropriate to use the word scheme in the program title.)

“In realizing the prime position that the agricultural sector occupies in the economic transformation of most advanced nations, the federal government established a revolutionary agricultural programme to ensure food security, reduction of expenditure regarding foreign exchange in food import, diversification of the economy and creation of new jobs,” Okupe said.

In 2013, the federal government supposedly will implement its young graduate farmers with the goal to “absorb 780,000 graduates in its first phase and provide an estimated four million jobs in the agricultural sector in the first year,” according to the report.

“By 2014, Nigeria’s 167 million population will feed on rice grown and produced locally as we would have attained 100 per cent self sufficiency in rice production like that of cement,” Okupe is quoted as saying.

It is interesting to note that self sufficiency in cement is right up there with self sufficiency in feeding people. Although it isn’t something we think about in the U.S., cement is highly important for the construction of buildings and a country’s infrastructure.

Let’s hope that the talk about tens of thousands of new “commercial farmers” pans out and that those farmers have the land, inputs and technology to raise crops. It takes a lot more than a basic education to become an efficient farmer, as those in the U.S. ag industry know. 

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