Yesterday the British newspaper The Guardian published an article that shows the impact of Covid-19 fallout on the Nigerian capital Lagos. This working-class Lagos community has been reeling from job losses, a collapse in informal services and rising food and transport costs. A lack of formal jobs and assured food security policy lay bare the lack of resilience of one of Africa's largest economies. According to the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in June, some 42% of Nigerians who depend on salaries for their livelihoods have lost their jobs during the pandemic. About 80% of households contacted for a survey reported lower incomes compared with last year. Already, 82 million Nigerians on a total population of 200 million live on less than $1 a day.

Dr Ikechi Agbugba
Dr Agbugba was educated at the University of Nigeria. He is a great networker and is on several international boards and networking organisations. He is a lecturer and researcher at the Department of Agriculture & Applied Economics of the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, and is the Advisor for Africa Agriculture Sector Development of the Canada Africa Network – Africa Trade Action Group (CAN-ATAG). He is also a faculty member for Masters in Agribusiness Management as well as MBA programmes of the Rome Business School (Nigeria Campus) and a senior research fellow for the Africa Agriculture Agenda. He received the ‘Agro-Economist of the Year’ award in the 2017 Conference of the Pan African Agricultural Journalists (PAAJ). His energy is geared towards contributing to the on-going transformation of rural communities and agro systems with the aim of reducing poverty and ensuring food security.

...I asked Dr Agbugba why Africans traditionally look down on being a farmer and what can to be done to overcome a deeply rooted cultural issue
Northern Mediterranean shores
After I had read about Dr Agbugba's views for the first time here, I decided we should be in touch. Since then we've been on the phone and ZOOM several times. Two weeks ago, the young American Jared Lefkort reported on a seminar featuring my now dear friend Ikechi. That was a reason for me to push one step ahead and ask Dr Agbugba why Africans traditionally look down on being a farmer and what can to be done to overcome a deeply rooted cultural issue.

The short answer is: by making agriculture part of a real commercial food business system and turning the pandemic into an opportunity to do so. The longer answer? Africans tend to see farming as a subsistence activity, rather than a business. Listen in and join the discussion with Ikechi and - I hope - Africans and non-Africans in the comments. I hope that especially Europeans will join, for I guess that stress on Africa's economies will threaten the northern Mediterranean shores worse than has been the case in the past ten years. Migration and misery will result from the current situation, unless we do our utter best to help develop not only agricultural production in Africa, but also an agrifood business system and trade that makes a profit in proudly African owned processing as well.

African migration towards Europe, the role of agriculture and trade policy with regard to Africa have been an issue on the Dutch version of Foodlog for many years now. Unfortunately for our international audience our articles and interviews are available mainly in Dutch, with the exception of two books authored by two distinguished members of our community.

Former Wageningen researcher Dr Niek Koning wrote Food security, agricultural policies and economic growth on agricultural policies worldwide. He has a specific view on Africa from a European perspective: the EU should redo its Economic Partnership Agreements as they prevent Africa from developing a serious agribusiness industry and make it even more difficult to motivate young Africans to pick up the opportunity to become food producers and processors. Dick Veerman did an interview on the book with Niek Koning in April 2018 (in Dutch).

Dr Henk Breman - widely know in Wageningen as 'the Sahel Professor' - wrote From Fed by the World to Food Security (the link leads up to a free PDF version of the hard copy ISBN 978-94-6395-085-5). Henk Breman has dedicated his life to agronomy, soil fertility and women's rights in Africa, especially in French speaking Africa. His book is in English. Breman is extremely critical of white NGO backed agroecology ideologies that - in his opinion - will result in an even poorer Africa as he told Dick Veerman in a video interview in June 2018 (in Dutch).