OXFAM, an international confederation of charitable organisations operating in Nigeria, has called on the government at all levels to scale up investments in agriculture so as to support smallholder farmers.
Nigerian pilot reports that OXFAM made the call on Wednesday in Abuja in the lead-up to this year’s World Food Day, which would be celebrated on Oct. 16.
Mr Constant Tchona, OXFAM Deputy Country Director, made the call at the formal presentation of OXFAM policy paper on “Impacts of Investments on Agriculture and Climate Change Adaptation on Small-Scale Farmers in Nigeria’’.
Tchona said that that there was a need to give more support to farmers in the country, particularly because of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East region which had resulted in food shortages in the affected areas.
“It is eight years now since conflicts erupted in the region and the development has pushed communities into dangerous levels of food insecurity and malnutrition; the only remedy now is to give support to smallholder farmers.
“Over 450, 000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and 5.8 million people in the North East are suffering from food insecurity, and they are in need of urgent food assistance,’’ he said.
On the need to eradicate hunger in the country, the OXFAM official urged the government and relevant stakeholders to urgently scale up responses to address the food situation.
According to him, the Nigerian government has a lot of good policies that govern agriculture, but the lack of implementation hinders the policies from achieving the desired maximum level of food production in the country.
“We at OXFAM recognised that government has put some very good, great policies in place; the problem is the disconnection between the policies and their implementation.
“Government needs to do more on the implementation aspects of its agricultural policies and also to give more support to smallholder farmers to boost food production,” he added.
Similarly, Mr Abdulazeez Musa, OXFAM’s Influencing/Public Engagement Officer, in his paper titled “Fine Words Do Not Produce Food’’, noted that small-scale farmers, with the right support, could overturn rampant malnutrition and move the country toward food security.
“The support that small-scale farmers need is straightforward; ranging from fertiliser to market access and climate change adaptation strategies.
“And the Nigerian government must escalate investments to deliver these vital resources,’’ he said.
Musa stressed that tangible efforts should be directed at exploiting the potential of small-scale farmers to reverse the food crisis in the country.
He described small-scale farmers as the backbone of food production in the country, adding that they were also at the vanguard of efforts to tackle hunger, poverty, unemployment, among others
He, however, stressed that the small-scale farmers required more financial support to enable them to do more.
Musa called on the government to increase funding of the agriculture sector by allocating at least 10 per cent of annual national budgets to the sector, in line with the commitments to the Maputo Declaration.
He said that government should redirect its investment to align with the needs of smallholder farmers, especially women farmers who faced additional constraints in accessing agricultural inputs and extension services in their regions.
In her contribution, Mrs Peace Chijioke, a farmer, said that the challenges facing farmers, particularly those in the rural areas, included their inability to access farm inputs from donor agencies and any assistance from the government.
“You can imagine a small-scale farmer, who cultivates a large farmland that produces enough food for his family and for sale, without any assistance from government.
“Such a farmer cannot do much without the needed support to achieve his or her goals of massive food production, ‘’ she added. (NAN)