FG’s borrowing hands has extended to grains and we are very worried

The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Baba-Shehuri Sunday, was reported to have borrowed 5,000 metric tonnes of assorted grains from the food stock of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Baba-Shehuri disclosed this while receiving the donated grains from ECOWAS, after which Nigerians have expressed their disappointment on Twitter over the development, blaming the food crises situation on FG’s closure of the country’s borders. Indeed, the disappointment is justifiable, especially when you consider that the country was once a major exporter of food crops with a thriving agricultural sector.

The history of Nigeria’s flourishing agricultural sector dates back to the pre-colonial era up until the post-colonial era. The country was famous for exporting groundnut and palm oil at the time. Other important cash crops include cashew nuts, sesame seeds, ginger and cocoa. There was no question of food shortage as the country produced a variety of crops that include beans, rice, cassava, plantain, bananas, yams, maize (corn), melon, millet, cocoa beans, soybeans, kola nut, gum Arabic, sorghum and more.

With the country’s vast agricultural resources; arable land, favourable climate and well-distributed rainfall, agriculture served as Nigeria’s major source of livelihood until oil was discovered in 1956. The discovery of oil led to a gradual shift from an agro-based economy to one that now relies heavily on oil as its major source of revenue.

No doubt, the discovery of oil is a blessing to the country, however, the over-dependence on it is detrimental to the country’s economic growth and food security that we are currently grappling with, which could have been averted if the agricultural sector and other key sectors of the economy were not neglected.

It is quite pathetic that today, Nigeria, which was a major exporter of crops in the past is now borrowing food from other nations. This is even made worse by the closure of the country’s borders that has stalled bilateral trade. At this point, there is no denying the fact that Nigeria is over-due for economic diversification that will guarantee food security and economic growth.

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