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A Letter to My Farmers (326)

The increasing food inflation is a big threat to the agricultural sector, especially at the primary production level. This is because the cost of production has geometrically increased within a short period of time, reducing farmland cultivated by farmers and thus reducing food produce. In addition, the purchasing power of consumers is becoming very low because income has not improved (due to the economic turndown). Thus, consumers are looking for cheaper alternative foods to stay alive. For perishable produce, there is an increase in food loss as a result of low demand, which is caused by many factors.  We can no longer continue in this mess, as the effects are becoming unbearable for all the value chain actors. 

As stakeholders in the agricultural sector, we don’t have to wait for the market forces to stabilize the market because there will be a lot of revenue losses due to its weak nature to rebound, and many actors will bear the brunt. Therefore, the government needs to step up as a major stakeholder at this time by subsidizing both food inputs and outputs. For food outputs, specific food produce (especially staple foods such as rice, cassava, and maize, amongst others) needs to be subsidized to reduce the immediate impact of the harsh economic reality on the household level, which could help stabilize productivity in the country.  Also, subsidizing inputs (which is a short-term palliative) for rainfall and dry season farming by adopting a workable model such as an E-wallet system to ensure that these subsidized inputs are accessible by genuine farmers rather than portfolio farmers who only profit rather than increasing food production (which is the intended goal). We need to increase food production at all costs to avoid further food crises, which could cripple the already ailing economy. 

The situation of food insecurity is more alarming in the face of the harsh economic reality, and we need to take drastic action to help salvage our food system. We don’t want a situation where more farmers will leave their farms to take up placards to protest in the cities (as seen in some countries now). If no solution is urgently preferred, our food system might totally collapse, resulting in more hunger, less productivity, and more economic woes for us. Let us take action today for tomorrow. Food is a weapon of defense; let us safeguard it.

Happy New Year to all! 


Babatunde Olarewaju

Picture credit 1 and 3: Farm visit, Togo. 

Picture 2:  Farm visit, Jigawa State. 

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