A clarion call has gone out to every Nigerian to plant a crop or two today to avert the looming starvation.
A former Vice Chancellor of the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike, Ebonyi State, gave the advice.
Painting a desperate picture of the problem during a Zoom interview with True Vision Online Television, Nwajiuba, a leading agricultural economist, said it was time for Nigerians to plant a crop or two today.
The interview was held against the backdrop of skyrocketing food prices in Nigeria and the planned launch of the 2024 cropping season in Okigwe South, a programme spearheaded by Professor Nwajiuba, who hails from Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of the Okigwe Senatorial Zone.
Nwajiuba, who is also a climate change expert, bemoaned the high cost of food items in the country, stating that the situation was so dire that all hands must be on deck to redress the situation immediately.
He identified insecurity, theft, climate change and the high cost of imports as key factors in the food crisis.
He said heightened insecurity had reduced the land space available for cultivation, particularly in the savanna parts of Nigeria and states in the middle belt that were traditionally regarded as Nigeria’s food baskets, a situation that has been worsened nationwide by the climate change phenomenon.
To underscore the challenge of climate change, Nwajiuba, who is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Climate Change and Development at AEFUNAI, identified erratic climate behaviour and discrepancies in the pattern of rainfall as posing dangers to farming hence declining food outputs.
He also underscored the nation’s over-dependence on food imports as a major contributor to the food crisis, particularly with the forex problem bedevilling the country.
The way out, he said, was for Nigerians to embark on “homestead agriculture” that entails each family planting some crops at a time.
He disclosed that the planned flag off of the farming season in Okigwe South was aimed at attracting the youth through material and financial incentives, adding that the prevailing national average farming age of about 60 years was a recipe for disaster.
The youth, he said, must embrace agriculture as a profitable enterprise and a guarantee against hunger and starvation.
According to Nwajiuba, the flag off of the planting season is being organised in collaboration with the Diocese of Okigwe South of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion); National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike; University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo; Agricultural Seed Council and Association of Imo State Farmers.
Nwajiuba told True Vision Online Television that the flag off, the first of its kind, is envisioned to be a yearly event among the three local governments that constitute the Okigwe South, namely: Ehime Mbano, Ihitte-Uboma and Obowo.
He called on philanthropists, businessmen and women, bureaucrats, students and all stakeholder groups to embrace the campaign as an antidote against the imminent starvation that was staring the majority of Nigerians in the face.
For details of Professor Nwajiuba’s interview, please watch True Vision Television Online: https://images.app.goo.gl/uzb6e6Mqd37VaPrq9