Uche Usim, Abuja
The Nigeria Young Farmers Network (NYFN) has complained to the Federal Government over a host of unfavorable policies the group says is affecting its members.
The group, in a statement, expressed its disapproval of the planned partial importation of maize and other banned crops purportedly to tackle Nigeria’s food shortages.
The Director General/National Coordinator of NYFN, Mr Promise Amahah, noted in the statement that the decision to grant some companies approval to import grains was totally demoralising and inexplicable because the association has made concerted efforts to ramp up local food production in response to the anticipated shortfall by mobilising the youth, especially the unemployed, to participate in its ‘raise a million farmers’ project.
He said: ‘As an organization with over a million members nationwide, our raise a million farmers was deliberately targeted to create compelling awareness and attraction of our teeming unemployed youth nationwide to ramp up local production of maize and other critical crops which will lead to rapid economic recovery, job and wealth creation.
‘For a government that had been on the forefront of import substitution and backward integration, one finds it hard to reconcile its sincerity of purpose with this selective importation approval for maize.
‘The sheer cost of providing forex for the five selected companies to import maize will be sufficient to mobilize 10 million young farmers to produce maize nationwide.
‘Beyond the massive production potential is the huge numbers of direct and indirect jobs that can be created, capital flight mitigation, enhanced socio-economic livelihood and ultimate reduction in crime (insecurity),’ he explained.
Still canvassing the need to halt the planned importation of grains and allow local farmers to sort out the shortfall, Amahah reckoned that Nigeria has a 2.6% annual population growth rate, evidenced by rapid demographic bulge.
‘Rate of unemployment is 27.1% as at the second quarter of 2020 indicating about 21.7 million Nigerians unemployed (mostly young people). Nigeria’s unemployment and underemployment rate (28.6%) is a combined 55%. Maize is ubiquitous – one of the special crops that grows everywhere in Nigeria. Every region produces maize.
‘The CBN Bulletin of 2015 also shows that the net flows in Nigeria from 1986 to 2016 which is our period of study have been very worrisome. The statistics shows that the worsening situation was recorded in 1999 and 2011 with $1.1 trillion and $8.8 trillion in net capital flight flows respectively. The causes of the above increasing trend of capital flight in Nigeria are often traced to disincentives created mainly by distortions in domestic macroeconomic policy.
‘The worst thing to do is to dampen our efforts in mobilizing young people to engage in the agricultural sector especially in view of the rapidly dwindling economy.
‘Youth apathy towards agriculture is a major challenge we are working hard to reverse and anything short of full support to achieve that will be counter productive for us as a nation,’ he added.