Dr Nnaemeka Obiaraeri
Between 2016 and 2018, the Netherland Ranchers and Animal Husbandry Agricultural Subsector exported meat worth over €21billion (about N9 trillion). Cumulatively, Netherland exported over $300billion (N117 trillion) worth of agro-commodities over the course of three years, from 2016 to 2018.
For your information there was nothing like farmers and herders clashing in the whole of the three-year period. No single Dutch citizen was lost to bandits and terrorist herders seeking to forcefully take over indigenous land for their herds of cattle or piggery pens or goat pen or poultry house.
No cattle farmer or pig farmer or poultry farmer lost his or her animals to bandits from neighbouring countries seeking for cattle to rustle. They did not kill any fellow Dutch citizens to raise their cows and pigs. They did not kill any farmer or burn any house; neither did they destroy any farmland, settlement nor community because a cow was killed or rustled.
The Dutch government did not use public funds to import grass from Bermuda triangle or create Ruga or settlement for some select class of Dutch citizens.
It will interest you to note that the herd size of the cattle in Netherland is just about 1.6 million healthy and productive cows. These cows are housed in over 18,000 dairy farms under unique agro pastoral schemes that create no problem for anyone.
More than 44,700 Dutch citizens, out of the over 200,000 engaged in the agricultural sector, are employed in the dairy sector, to take care and process milk and other associated dairy products from the healthy and productive 1.6 million cows. Over 23 companies are engaged in milk processing, operating 57 processing plants, which are fully documented and adding much value to the Dutch economy.
The processing companies produce over 12 million tons of milk, 800,000 tons of cheese, and other dairy products annually. Kindly note that all the 44,000-plus people employed in the Dutch dairy industry and the over 200,000 other people employed in agricultural sector pay their taxes.
But here in Nigeria, despite creating chaos with our maddening and outdated open grazing policies that have led to the death of hundreds of our citizens, destruction of communities, wastage of farmlands, gross insecurity and palpable fear in the land (which has discouraged farmers from going to their farms), we still import over $1.5 billion worth of milk annually.
Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Borno, Niger, Benue, Nassarawa and Taraba state, among others, which should be earning over $60billion annually from agriculture and agro-processing, all things being equal, are being destroyed by bandits and terrorists from outside Nigeria and we all pretend that all is normal.
Who is fooling who? Everyday, we mouth diversification into agriculture as our source of economic rescue, yet a majority of us are not enraged at our continued indulgence in such Stone Age primitive animal husbandry practice in the 21st century. We still indulge, condone and make excuses for barbarism.
What people are discussing is how to import grass, give public funds to private business owners and create colonies for them. The loans, totaling about N650billion, which the CBN disbursed to “farmers” (both the audio farmers and real farmers) over the last five years are stuck and may not come back.
Netherland with arable land that is just 2 per cent of Nigeria’s arable land and a population that’s less than 9 per cent of Nigeria’s population earned a combined revenue of over $300billion (N117 trillion) from agricultural exports within three years – 2016 to 2018.
Yet, here in the country, we celebrate export of a container of rotten yam worth less than $20,000 as achievement. We call press conference to celebrate grants of a paltry $300m for Agric. We clap and dance as the Asians export fresh tons of agro commodities, whose forex earnings do not come back to Nigeria.
Are we not just ashamed as a people? Is there anything that Netherland is doing that we cannot do and surpass if we put the right round pegs in round holes in our ministries, departments and agencies at the local, state and federal government levels?
What is holding us back from totally restructuring this country back to the 1960 independent constitution that worked for us and can help us to accomplish better agro-mileages than Netherlands and other developed climes?
From 1960 to 1966, the economy of the old Eastern Nigeria was adjudged the fastest growing amongst the Commonwealth nations. Crude oil did not contribute to this massive growth.
What do we have in place as our two, four, 10 or 20-year integrated, consolidated and holistic agriculture development master plan for Nigeria and her constituent units? We don’t have any.
The major problem with this country is that an overwhelming majority of Nigerians love mediocrity. They celebrate it. The attitude is reflected in our everyday lives and work ethics. Most of us do not desire to be set apart in excellence and outstanding performances. We are not outraged by the madness round about us. Where is our indignation? Where is our humanity and God-given skill and ability to create, multiply and replenish the earth?
God, please have mercy on us and jerk us out of this lethargy and stupors
• Dr Nnaemeka Obiaraeri, guest writer