“I personally sat at the driver’s seat” – Obasanjo blames lack of food security on successors

by Lekan Olanrewaju
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has blamed the food insecurity in Africa on the lack of continuity of agricultural policies and programmes by successive governments.
Speaking on Saturday at a forum in Abeokuta organised by the Centre for Human Security (CHS) and Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) on “Best practices in fostering food security in Africa’’, he said that the food crisis in Africa could be attributed to the failure of successive administrations to sustain the good agricultural policies and programmes initiated by their predecessors.
 Obasanjo noted that most of the programmes he initiated for the development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector were abandoned after his exit from power. He insisted that Nigeria would have since become self-sufficient in food production if the agricultural policies and programmes, implemented during his tenures as military and civilian head of state, were sustained.

“When I was Nigeria’s head of government, whether as military head of state or as elected president, the progress we made in agriculture and food security was because I personally sat at the driver’s seat,” he said. “I recall that when I was the military head of state, we had a programme called ‘Operation Feed the Nation’ to improve agriculture and enhance food production. And we made some appreciable progress.”

He stated that his administration increased the cocoa production of the country from 150,000 metric tonnes to over 400,000 metric tonnes within five years.  He also noted a similar improvement in cassava production from 30 million tonnes to 60 million metric tonnes within the same period.

“We were self-sufficient in the production of agricultural produce such as poultry, rice and vegetable oil. However, when we left government and our successor came in, they set up a presidential task force for the importation of rice; not for the production of rice.
We need to find a better way not to harm ourselves; a way to consistently, continually and, indeed, continuously promote food security in Africa.” he said.


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