In this week's Letter to My Farmers, Babatunde places the focus on the various barriers to farming for the people and being able to produce enough food for all the hungry mouths. Food production can be more efficient, if we all focus on sustainable food production.
Farming is a noble profession that meets the needs of the growing population in terms of food availability, accessibility and providing the right quantity and quality at the appropriate time. This is because food is one of the basics of life and provides a solution to hunger. Therefore, as we experience population explosion, the volume of food to be produced needs to be greatly increased to meet the needs of the populace, and it is only possible to achieve this when farmers use the right inputs and technology to improve production efficiency.
Currently, food production in developing countries (specifically Nigeria) is experiencing a setback due to several factors such as poor access to quality input such as seeds, poor knowledge of good agricultural practices, low soil productivity, political instability, poor storage infrastructure, and insecurity amongst others. These factors and others have contributed to the high food inflation in the country, and the food supply is far lower than its demands; affecting the food system adversely. This is a big threat to achieving food security by 2030 and on the other hand, a big business opportunity to be explored.
In reality, there are more mouths to feed locally. Therefore, there is a need to achieve sustainable food production all year round rather than seasonal food production. Investment and/or upgrading of irrigation infrastructure is a must in selected areas within the country that have competitive advantages in massive production, for example, more irrigation land. There is also a need to create a platform where farmers can have access to relevant agricultural information such as weather information, access to quality inputs, regional soil information, pest infestation forecasts, etc., that are germane to the success of food production. Furthermore, there is a need to do soil analysis for the various farming communities to develop a tailored made soil management plan for farmers in various zones or regions.This would be a game changer in increasing production efficiency. Furthermore, we must embrace mechanization to reduce over-dependence on farm labor, which is becoming scarce in some farming communities. This would help reduce production time and increase efficiency.
Lastly, there must be a political willingness to implement the right policies that would support farmers and other value chain actors to be consciously involved to make sustainable food production a reality. We cannot continue to address symptoms that are temporary without tackling the root cause, that makes scarcity of food a recurring national issue. It is time for us all to walk the talk, and make sustainable food production a goal.