By Paul Efiong
OXFAM, an international agricultural-based organizations operating in Nigeria, has called on the governments to scale up investments in agriculture to support smallholder farmers in the country ahead of the World Food Day Celebration on October 16, 2017.
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 appealed to all stakeholders, government at all levels 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.
Musa stressed that tangible efforts should be directed at exploiting the potential of small-scale farmers to reverse the food crisis in the country.
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.
Chijioke appealed to the government at all levels to give more support to the local farmers, even as she observed that farming is their core occupation which brings enough food to the society.