President Bola Tinubu’s recent order for the release of 225,000 metric tonnes of fertilisers, seedlings, and critical inputs to farmers in Nigeria is aimed at stabilising the surging food prices across the country. The continuous rise in food prices has exacerbated headline inflation, leading to a cost of living crisis and pushing many into poverty. However, experts are raising concerns about the effectiveness and sustainability of this move, attributing the crisis to a combination of internal and external shocks.
The release of these agricultural inputs is expected to provide some respite for farmers grappling with high production costs, insecurity, and climate change. However, some experts question the timing of the intervention, as the planting seasons have already passed. Folorunsho Olayemi, the CEO of Sammorf Agro-Consult Limited, believes that the strategy would have been more effective if implemented during the planting season. Moreover, he highlights the lack of necessary infrastructure, such as adequate dryers for harvested crops, which may jeopardize a good harvest.
Insecurity and inadequate infrastructure are among the top issues that need to be addressed in the country’s agriculture sector. Stakeholders are calling for more sustainable solutions, emphasizing the importance of appropriate research measures to increase production and address the root causes of the food crisis.
Jude Obi, the president of the Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria, points out that despite historical fertiliser subsidies, the government has failed to tackle underlying issues like insecurity, low mechanisation, and poor storage facilities. He emphasizes that lowering the cost of food is not enough; the focus should be on increasing production and ensuring that farmers have access to healthcare and other essential services.
Ibrahim Kabiru, the national president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, acknowledges that the federal government has declared an emergency on food security. He emphasizes the need to address challenges such as insecurity, mechanisation, access to credit, and other inputs like fertilisers, herbicides, and pesticides. Kabiru also stresses the importance of merit-based appointments for individuals responsible for driving the government’s agricultural plan.
While the strategy of flooding the market with subsidised food items may provide short-term relief from inflation, its long-term sustainability remains in question. Stakeholders are keen to monitor the distribution of fertilisers and other inputs to ensure transparency and efficiency in the process. Addressing the underlying issues in the agriculture sector, including infrastructure and security, will be critical for achieving lasting food security in Nigeria.
As Nigeria continues its efforts to combat rising food prices and achieve food security, stakeholders hope that the government will focus on long-term, sustainable solutions that address the root causes of the crisis. By investing in infrastructure, mechanisation, research, and access to credit and inputs, the country can build a robust agricultural sector that benefits both farmers and consumers.