Several experts in the agribusiness sector on Thursday advocated that the country must end internal conflicts and insecurity to move away from subsistence farming to value-added farming.
This was the thrust of a one-day Agritalk Conference, hosted by AVAS Consulting Ltd., with the theme: `Advancing Nigeria’s Agriculture and Rural Development in the Midst of Conflict’’, in Abuja.
Among those who spoke at the conference was Mr. Michael Kadiri, the Managing Director of AVAS Consulting Ltd., who said it was worrisome that insecurity was hampering agricultural food production in the country.
He said it was equally worrisome that no fewer than 70 per cent of households practice diverse forms of subsistence farming, saying if properly harnessed, they could help meet the country’s target of food security.
“When we talk about conflict and fear for farmers, everyone focuses on terrorism, banditry, but there are other factors like climate change, there is also the fact that Lake Chad is drying amongst others.
“And all these are conflicts of humans and when we start to create conversations about these issues, so that people tend to develop hope,’’ he said.
He said a partnership with ”Plant For Peace”, an International NGO, would see more innovative ways to maximise food production in the country, saying plans were underway to assist rural communities and smallholder farmers in conflict and post-conflict territories.
This, he noted would help them become supply-chain farmers rather than local food producers for consumption alone.
Similarly, the CEO, Plant For Peace, Mr James Brett, said through its activities in war-torn Afghanistan, communities had been empowered to become self-sufficient through sustainable agriculture and trade.
Brett said there was the need to begin to advance agriculture in rural communities towards achieving food sufficiency and security in the country.
Brett said, “The need to advance agriculture in rural development in the midst of conflict resonates across borders.
“We must begin to stimulate troubled areas of the world in empowering communities to become self-sufficient through sustainable agriculture and a trend to fix smaller farmers and communities in Nigeria.
“We will be participating in a global food market conference on advancing Nigeria’s agriculture and rural development in the midst of conflicts.”
In his remark, Maj.-Gen. Abdulkadri Mohammed, Managing Director, Nigeria Army Farmers limited, said the farms had been implementing the agricultural policy agenda of President Mohammadu Buhari for food security.
According to him, all barracks have available lands for those interested in farming, saying this would be made available with payment of a small fee of N10,000 per hectare.
“Through civil-military relations, we have been working to support families on food and crop production. We also do livestock production, our poultry production aspect is being done by ex-servicemen and their families.
“This has really helped in job creation and the ending the use of unemployed youths as agents of crises, we are always open for partnerships,’’ he said.