Let­ter to the Editor

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Sal­isu Na’inna Dam­batta

The black mar­ket for weapons in the North East Nige­ria is ob­vi­ously clos­ing. Some­body wants to keep the bloody busi­ness in mo­tion. So the evil agents have shopped for an­other nonen­tity, em­power him to group and gather foot sol­diers to start an­other chap­ter of se­cu­rity threat to the gov­ern­ment.

South East Nige­ria must wise up and rise up now. Nnamdi Kalu, like Muham­mad Yusuf or Abubakar Shekau, is just an­other name. The real deal is in the lives that would be lost, many that would suf­fer, prop­er­ties that would be de­stroyed all for the in­ter­est of some peo­ple you will never know. Never see. They are the peo­ple who gain from the trades of arms and am­mu­ni­tions, con­tracts of mil­i­tary hard and soft­ware, bo­gus un­ac­counted se­cu­rity votes, etc. The vic­tims of the fall­outs of th­ese machi­na­tions are the poor, men, women, chil­dren who are so far re­moved from what­ever is/or are the in­ter­est(s) of the plot­ters.

Gov­ern­ment on its part must not al­low the same script of need­less blood-let­ting re­play it­self. Please we are hav­ing too much al­ready...

Us­man Mo­hammed Chenche La­pai 07060815443 This shows the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral is not com­pe­tent enough to dis­charge his duty. And on Buhari’s nom­i­nees we didn’t hear the name of Garba Mo­hammed Gadi, the man who led the Pres­i­dent’s former CPC into merger.

Ab­dul­lahi Kabir, Azare, Bauchi state 08035686636

As the Daily Trust’s first Agric Con­fer­ence and Ex­hi­bi­tion opens to­mor­row Oc­to­ber 27 to close on Oc­to­ber 28, 2015, dur­ing which the prob­lems and prospects of agri­cul­ture in Nige­ria will be dis­cussed, many ac­tiv­i­ties are equally tak­ing place si­mul­ta­ne­ously on farms in the coun­try’s vast agri­cul­tural belt; as the 2015 na­tion­wide wet sea­son ebbs to her­ald the start of the 2015/2016 har­mat­tan phase.

In their nu­mer­ous ac­tiv­i­ties on the farms, the farm­ers will con­tend with the sit­u­a­tions and re­al­i­ties they have lived with for gen­er­a­tions, wait­ing for so­lu­tions and new ideas from re­searchers and those schooled in com­mon and well-es­tab­lished mod­ern ap­proaches to agri­cul­tural prac­tice.

While the con­fer­ence on agri­cul­ture and its ben­e­fits is run­ning at the Nige­rian Air Force Con­fer­ence Cen­tre, the friends of the soil will be busy har­vest­ing their com­mer­cial and ba­sic food crops com­pris­ing paddy rice, white (cow pea) and soya beans, sesame, gar­den eggs, an as­sort­ment of roots and tu­bers, ground­nuts and mil­let from their small farms.

Sim­i­larly, many peas­ant farm­ers, who dom­i­nate crop and live­stock pro­duc­tion in the coun­try would be in the fields clear­ing their fields and evac­u­at­ing the with­ered stalks of their re­cently-har­vested maize, har­vest­ing and spread­ing their red peeper on the shoul­ders of the na­tion’s high­ways to dry, fer­ry­ing bas­kets of toma­toes to sell­ing points, and fer­vently pray­ing for ‘bonus’ spurts of rain that could strengthen their sorghum and bul­rush-mil­let to ripe fully for prof­itable har­vest.

In­deed, many of the farm­ers while wait­ing to har­vest their sorghum, cas­sava and a few other crops that usu­ally ripen in the last few days of Novem­ber or the first ten days of De­cem­ber are al­ready busy on their farms, di­vid­ing them into ap­pro­pri­ate plant­ing beds in prepa­ra­tion for dry sea­son crop­ping.

Some of the dry-sea­son farm­ers will cash on the bod­ies of wa­ter trapped in bur­rows dug by road con­struc­tion com­pa­nies to ir­ri­gate their hand­ker­chief-size plots; many of them will rely on the wa­ter in small earth dams. In this case they com­pete with herds of cat­tle for ac­cess­ing and us­ing the wa­ter for ir­ri­ga­tion, as thou­sands more dry-sea­son farm­ers strug­gle to rent plots within the coun­try’s nu­mer­ous large-scale ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­i­ties pro­vided by gov­ern­ment.

While the con­fer­ence and ex­hi­bi­tion are go­ing on, thou­sands of farm­ers will be sell­ing their har­vested crops at give-away prices in over­sup­plied mar­kets to get cash for in­puts nec­es­sary for the dry­sea­son toil, or just to avoid los­ing their per­ish­ables: they have no means of pre­serv­ing the larger part of har­vested per­ish­ables like toma­toes, pep­per, onions, gar­den eggs, okra and greens such as spinach, sell­ing them cheaply is the main way out of the dilemma.

How­ever, the char­ac­ter­is­tics of agri­cul­tural prac­tice in Nige­ria, which may be as­sessed as ba­sic in terms of so­phis­ti­ca­tion and yield per cul­ti­vated hec­tre, do not pre­vent the sec­tor from be­ing the most con­sis­tently pro­duc­tive in the na­tional econ­omy. The Na­tional Bureau of Statis­tics said that the sec­tor grew by 7.44 per cent and 9.1 per cent in the first and sec­ond quar­ters of 2015, re­spec­tively.

It is the strong­est pil­lar of the Nige­rian econ­omy, the gen­er­a­tor of the largest por­tion of the coun­try’s Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP): it con­trib­uted N46.6 tril­lion or US$245 bil­lion to the GDP be­tween 2011 and 2014. The Busi­ness Day news­pa­per on Oc­to­ber 9th, 2015, in­ter­preted the Na­tional Bureau of Statis­tics (NBS) re­port for the sec­ond quar­ter of 2015, and pro­claimed that Nige­rian agri­cul­ture con­trib­utes an av­er­age of 41 per cent to the GDP an­nu­ally. How­ever, Ecobank Nige­ria said in its pre­sen­ta­tion on Agri­cul­ture in April 2014 that, af­ter re­bas­ing the Nige­rian econ­omy, the sec­tor’s con­tri­bu­tion to the GDP was 22 per cent in 2013.

How­ever, which­ever fig­ure is used, it still dwarfs the 11 per cent con­trib­uted to the GDP by the Oil and Gas sec­tor, which many peo­ple er­ro­neously thought is the back­bone of the Nige­rian econ­omy. How­ever, it is im­por­tant to note that Oil and Gas are the main ex­ports, gen­er­at­ing the high­est hard cur­rency earn­ings for Nige­ria; and rep­re­sent the main source of most Gov­ern­ment rev­enue.

The four main agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties namely crop pro­duc­tion; fish­ing, forestry and live­stock pro­duc­tion are all growth ar­eas. The growth was driven by 3.5 mil­lion new jobs cre­ated in the sec­tor, in­creased credit to com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture and a US$8 bil­lion for­eign in­vest­ment within the pe­riod un­der re­view, as re­ported by the Nige­rian Ex­port Im­port Bank (NEXIM).

Given the sec­tor’s sta­tus as the em­ployer of 60 per cent of the work­force and its in­her­ent elas­tic­ity in job cre­ation, Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari’s ad­min­is­tra­tion plans to ride on that to en­gage 20, 000 school leavers in each of the 36 states of the fed­er­a­tion through the Youth Em­ploy­ment in Agri­cul­ture Pro­gramme (YEAP). In the plan, 18,500 univer­sity grad­u­ates would be sup­ported fi­nan­cially to start agro en­ter­prises.

Sal­isu Na’inna Dam­batta is a Fed­eral Di­rec­tor of In­for­ma­tion.

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