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agro story

Agro Story
#1
SUBSTAINABILITY OF AGRICULTURE IN NIGERIA*

It is widely recognized in the hierarchy of needs that food, shelter and clothing are the most important and as such it is pertinent to gain insight on how one can fully satisfy these needs over time.
In the society today, agriculture is assumed to be the most important sector in the economy. Having all it takes for societal stability and development. In as much as its role is very significant, little is being done to fully sustain and improve the sector.
While growing up as a child, I’ve come to realize that no one has ever met the demand for food and Agricultural produce. Most times some agricultural produce go into extinction probably due to unavailability of stock or inability of producers to meet up with the high demand for such products.
First I’d like to say that sustainable agriculture follows the natural phenomenon of self sustaining crop production and animal husbandry . Agriculture can only be sustainable when food production is in abundance without having a negative impact on the biosphere. That’s the message. It goes beyond increasing agricultural outputs for human and industrial use; it encompasses social, economic and ecological considerations such as
prevention of food waste,
improved storage methods,
provision of social infrastructures such as good roads, electricity
and these are all essential for achieving global food security. True right? So you can agree with me that there’s need to revisit the means of sustainable livelihood through Agriculture .
There has been deficit in Food supply chain per annum and this has adversely affected the consumption rate of Farm produce. See it from the realistic point of view. Sustainability of Agricultural produce has to do with making Food available all year round.
According to data released by the FAO of the U.N in 2005, the annual requirement for Fish products is 1.5MMT but the annual production is about 0.4MMT, presenting a huge deficit. Similar cases can be found in other agricultural sectors such as poultry, crop production and livestock production in general .
Such deficits implies that over 800 million people in the world suffer from food insecurity most especially in developing countries in Africa to be precise. This is largely not because of lack of viable and arable lands but due to the factors which are more or less anthropogenic.
What’s the panacea?
What’s the solution?
What’s the rescue Agenda?
I’ve observed there is this poor Mindset towards agriculture by the larger populace which has affected productivity.
It is alarming that a larger fraction of the African population mostly the average and low income earners still nurture a negative belief towards agriculture usually tagging it poverty-ridden business. This is a gross misconception that has caused a devastating decline in food production and the world’s economy. If not addressed, soon there would be lack even in the midst of plenty resources. People who have funds to invest in the system refuse to do so just because they feel it’s a poor man’s business.
To combat this, I’m of the opinion that there should be a conscious paradigm shift and change in the psyche and mindset of the populace towards sustainable Agricultural development. This can be achieved by sensitizing, empowering and rendering agric extension services to the grass roots, providing adequate training on General Farm management, provision of low interest loans and grants to enable farmers participate actively, create a means of integrating the investor into the Agribusiness for continued annual yield.
Again, to bring sustainable livelihood in Agriculture, there should be a change in thinking and mindset. Agribusiness like any other business requires flair and passion without which one may not be able to get expected results. So as a farmer, you must love what you do. It’s very simple.
However, in this era of globalization and mechanization, agricultural practices are still dependent on weather and environmental conditions. That’s too bad. For instance, the No_rain_No_Farming syndrome must be done away with. You got it right?
The season of the year, as well as the temperature conditions tend to determine the kind of agricultural activity to be done. “A climate dependent agriculture cannot ensure sustainability”. That’s the truth! But this could be boycotted by adopting diverse modern practices such as irrigation, mulching, crop rotation, etc.
Furthermore, poor governance, Lack of execution of laid down policies, inaccessibility to agric funds like i said earlier , all go a long way to hamper the sustainability of agriculture in the tropics.
Moreover , some modern tillage practices such as bush burning tend to destroy the soil biota and natural flora and fauna of the soil. Exposing the soil to extreme temperatures makes the soil unhabitable for these organisms which facilitates aeration, decomposition and mineral fixation. This must be addressed too.
Another challenge I’ve noticed over time is the prolonged use of herbicides on the soil which
reduces the viability and efficacy of grown crops. You’ll observe that crops planted in such areas hardly yield greatly unless artificially fertilized. Also, the use of herbicides and pesticides have proved to be a menace especially in riverine and coastal areas. These chemicals are washed off from the soil either through erosion or runoff into water bodies, thereby endangering aquatic lives, causing pollution and altering the genetic structure and metabolism of these organisms.
This often result in low catch- ability during fishing, migration of fish species and high mortality in the aquatic ecosystem. Human health complications such as cancers, tumors, emerge as a result of consuming aquatic organisms containing these toxic chemicals. Zoonotic diseases are also contracted as a result of these complications.
Overdependence on artificial fertilizers should be discouraged because it no longer allows for natural regeneration of soil fertility and thereby limiting the power of sustainable Agriculture because some of these practices have indirect but significant impact on our agricultural system.
It is evident that when the demand of a product becomes high, its supply and availability tends to diminish causing inflation of prices. In areas where the larger populace consume more of a single staple food, farmers are forced to focus more on producing such crop. Hence, continuous cropping and intense cultivation becomes unavoidable.
Consequently, such lands gradually become almost infertile and hardly produce substantial yield unless synthetic fertilizers are used.
It is therefore ideal to adopt mixed diets in order to curtail overdependence on a food product.
However, adoption of modern and effective storage facilities that maximize shelf life and durability, processing methods that ensure nutrient retention and adequate packaging techniques should be encouraged.
Conclusively, adopting safe Agricultural practices that give room for turn over tend to be very pertinent, bearing in mind that for us to achieve a sustainable agriculture, we must be committed in preserving our natural habitat and protecting our environments.
By Blessed Esionyeaba
  




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