By Kehinde Adeoye
The youth have been charged to embrace farming in order to see off scarcity and the hike in food prices in Nigeria.
The issues formed a basis for discussion by Nigerians who took to the social media Monday morning, sharing views on the sustained hike in the prices of staple foods and others consumables in the country.
While some gave reasons for the situation, calling it a global phenomenon, some believed the scarcity and high cost of foods could be blamed on the dearth of interest in farming, especially from the younger ones, as it was said the youths aren’t taken over from the aged farmers, while the government’s role was also seen as a key factor.
Some among the numerous Nigerian Twitter users, probably tweeting from the outside the country’s network coverage areas, as the platform is currently banned in Nigeria, sharing views on the microblogging site, supported the position that youths needed to change their negative perceptions about farming, stressing that farmers are not necessarily illiterates.
Other contributing argued that the Federal Government is not to be blamed over concerns some expressed over the roles of government in controlling prices, citing the issues of insecurity, the Covid-19 outbreak, climate change among other things they said mitigates against price control, stressing that active participation in agriculture is the way and go, and youths must take charge if scarcity and increase in food prices must stop.
A Twitter user, who in his position indicated that youths need to do better, tweeting with the handle, @HannahAdedoyin2, admonished the younger population to brace up and embrace agriculture positing that the old generation are not accustomed to new technologies that can fasttrack agricultural production.
She tweeted: “The hike in food prices and scarcity should be a challenge for our younger population. The ageing farmers are less likely to adopt the new technologies needed to sustain increase in agricultural productivity.”
He tweeted “There is also a need to put up effort seeking to change the negative perception of youths on farming, breaking this illusion of seeing farmers as illiterates and uneducated. We need more foods to reduce hike in food prices.”
She further explained that modern technology has taken over and it’s important that youths explore the opportunities available in this area, contending that, “Modern agriculture is the way to go! It is more than plants and animals. As an economic sector, it offers career opportunities in research, environment, financial management, engineering and technical areas for the youths to explore. We need to stop the hike in food prices.”
Another user, @bravefacefunkie also solicited for the youth’s participation in farming, maintaining that growing enough food will feed the world and banish hike in food prices.
She tweeted: “Youths should participate more in agriculture,” opining that, “This offers the young generation a chance to make a difference by growing enough food to feed the world and banish hike in food prices. State governments should weight lift this. Abuja monthly allocation will continue to depreciate.”
Another tweeting under the handle @fako_daniel, challenging the youths to action, said, the youth expect the government to do everything for them, stressing that “increase in prices of food won’t stop if we fail to do the needful.”
He tweeted: “That is the point, Nigerian youths are not ready for agriculture, all we want is for the government to do everything for us. How can we want the Hike In Food Prices to just disappear when we are not even ready to do the needful?”
But coming from a different perspective, a user with the handle, @AdeagboOpeyem17, coming from the government’s angle, emphasized the efficacy of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) chaired by Vice President Osinbajo believing it will address the food crisis.
In a tweet, @AdeagboOpeyem17, said: “The Economic Sustainability Programme is a major initiative the government is adopting to sort the lingering issue of hike in food prices and this has helped in a long way in combating some of the challenges we face as a nation.”
Another users also exonerating the government, @AdewunmiCollins, wondered why “government is blamed for everything,” while also noting that, “Every calamity, tragedy, natural disaster, unforeseen circumstances are often caused by the government.”
“The current hike in food prices shouldn’t be blamed on the government, but a whole lot of factors,” @AdewunmiCollins concluded.
Others who came from the opposing standing point not necessarily seeing it from the angle of more farmers are needed, cited other reasons as the cost of hike in food prices to be the incident of Covid-19 pandemic outbreak which restricted movements globally, and thereby chasing farmers out of their farmlands.
To this set of contributors, it was strongly believed that the coronavirus pandemic had a negative impact on the world economy, not just Nigeria’s economy, which also affected farming and movements of food crops from one location to the other, and thereby causes scarcity.
It was said, the lockdown and restrictions halted agricultural production making it impossible for movements, substantial productions and transportation of farm produce to different states, especially across the regions.
The issue with insecurity especially towards in the Nigerian northeastern states was played up as not helping matters. To these set of contributors, the operation of the Boko Haram terrorists, bandits and Fulani herdmen have either prompted farmers to withdraw totally from their farms or reduced their general farm output, while climate change, foreign exchange rate and border closure were among the reasons stated.
However, stressing further, they believe the intervention of the Federal Government especially with the Osinbajo chairing Economic Sustainability committee will address not just the agricultural sector, but also every sector of our economy.
Besides, @bravefacefunkie, whose opinions were earlier mentioned, had in a thread, highlighted reasons for the hike in food prices, arguing that “we are not isolated from the world as regards the current hike in food crises and scarcity, explaining the different reasons why there is inflation in prices of food items.
Taking excerpts from her thread, she tweeted: “What are the causes of hike in food prices? The higher the global oil price, the bigger the impact. Food products get transported at great distances and high oil prices raise shipping costs. On farming also, oil byproducts are a significant component of fertilizer.
“This is the reason why a nation God has blessed abundantly with arable lands and favourable climate doesn’t have an excuse for hike in food prices due to transported food from the US, Norway, Thailand. This is the reason having functional refineries is needful.”
She asked in her tweet, saying, “Climate change and hike in food prices, what can anyone or government do to avoid extreme weather?” In supplying the answers, she said: “Air temperature is increasing, it is raining less, water from lakes and rivers evaporating, lands drying up, floods are becoming irresistible, which in turn can damage crops.”
Citing “dwindling government’s subsidies and hike in food prices,” @bravefacefunkie said:
“Nations of the world are earning less due to the general economic dip, a direct impact on the rate of agric output subsidies. Nigeria isn’t left out. This is a government still battling on providing basic infrastructural facilities.
“As far back as 2015, the CBN had restricted access to inadequate forex earnings for at least 41 items at the Nigerian FX market which it said can be produced in Nigeria.
This was done to encourage local production but no doubt short time hike in food prices is unavoidable,”
By and large, from mixed reactions, it appears the situation is a dicey one, it is one that calls for national unity and understanding if the country is to move forward. And in all, Nigerians are optimistic and hopeful that the creation of several plans and initiatives of the Federal Government towards tackling the hike in food prices, hunger and scarcity will yield a positive result.