The Ondo State government has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on rural roads across the country as part of the ways of ensuring food security.
Mr Akin Olotu, the Special Senior Assistant (SSA) to the Governor on Agric and Agribusiness; made the call at the commemoration of World Food Day on Wednesday, in Akure, Ondo state capital.
The theme for the 2019 edition of the Day is “Healthy Diets for Zero Hunger World.’’
Olotu said that it was worrisome that after the farmers had produced food; they would be hindered from bringing them to the urban centres for sale because of bad roads.
He called for the reconstruction/rehabilitation of at least 20 rural roads in each state by the Federal Government every year; saying this was a matter of urgency to enhance food security.
The governor’s aide called for the return of the defunct Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI). He noted that this will help to address the challenges of rural roads and food surplus.
Olotu, who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the closure of the nation’s border; asked Nigerians to support him in encouraging local production of food. According to him, the policy may result in short term difficulties; but it will surely benefit the entire Nigerians in the long run.
“When we import food with our population of about 200 million; it means there will be food crisis when we become the third most populated country in the world in years ahead. There is no crown without a cross. Japan shut their doors when they wanted to bounce back, and likewise China.
Border closure a good development, says Ondo Govt
“We have the land, water, manpower, sunlight and everything needed to turn around agriculture. But we need a strong determination to make a difference.
“Therefore, let’s see what we can do locally when our doors are shut. Honestly, I want the border to remain closed for the next two to three years,’’ he stated.
Olotu who noted that food security was the bedrock of all other securities; said that if there was food crisis, the society would be in danger.
Olotu, who received an award for his ‘meritorious service and commitment to development of agriculture’, called on government, donor agencies and private organisations to adequately fund research institutes.
According to him, research should be focused on improved seedlings and methodologies in scaling up the value chains.
He tasked the institutes to spend money budgeted to them judiciously and come up with something relevant to the need of farmers and the society.
Olotu appealed to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to come to the aid of farmers who had lost their farmlands to flood, occasioned by incessant rainfall.
‘Zero hunger state remains target’
He said that over N200 million had been injected into the poultry farming scheme by the state government.
Olotu added that the state government had encouraged tree crops cultivation for more revenue generation, as seedlings of cocoa and oil palm were distributed free to farmers in the state.
He said that this was also extended to secondary schools in the state through distribution of improved cashew and oil palm seedlings under the ‘Schools-On-The-Ridges’ programme.
“Renovation and utilisation of all the agro-business centres for training of youths in agriculture has commenced, while Ore Farm Centre is under a public/private partnership (PPP) arrangement, ’’ he stated.
In his speech, Gov. Akeredolu, said that his administration had rolled out different schemes towards achieving a zero hunger state.
Akeredolu, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Chief Olugbenga Ale, added that various schemes had been embarked upon in empowering farmers and encouraging youths to go into farming in the state.
He assured farmers in the state that his administration had identified and pencilled down some rural roads for rehabilitation, while some others would also be constructed.
The governor promised that farmers, whose farms were affected by flooding, would be assisted financially to help them during the dry season farming.