Arguably, food is a major sustenance and basic necessity of life. Others include clothing and shelter. A nation blessed with natural resources and fertile land like Nigeria should be able to feed its inhabitants and also export large produce to other countries at the international level as a source to generate revenue. However, so far, this isn’t the situation with Nigeria. In the past, before the discovery of crude oil, the nation survived largely on agricultural production until the sector was neglected as attention was diverted into the oil sector, which has proven to be unreliable in recent times. The nation has been labelled a consuming nation because of the poor engagement in manufacturing (including food production) but depends largely on importation of what her people consume. Fortunately for the nation, the Government, both at the Federal and state level has integrated the promotion of agriculture as part of their developmental agenda, hence the involvement of individuals in agriculture becomes imperative to drive the vision.
Food production is the process of transforming raw ingredients into prepared food products. Food production includes industries that take food products and convert them into marketable food items. The food-producing industries take fruits, vegetables and grains in their seed forms as well as meat directly after the butchering process and processes these into different types of food products available for sale in various markets. Food production ranges from crop farming (plantation, harvesting, processing and packaging), animal farming (processing and packaging) to comprehensive processes involving lots of additives and ingredients. Food production processes create products with longer shelf lives than raw food ingredients.
Land usage can serve as one of the things that can boost food production in the country and it’s a very major step. There is a lot of virgin land that hasn’t been tapped into and so much more that has been used in the past but lying fallow. Asides from the government making such known to the general public, it should also make the leasing affordable to the interested public.
The leasing of these lands to farmers will enable them cultivate and produce food not only at individual (subsistent) levels but also at the national level. The policy on these lands should be adjusted for suitable use and should not be unattainable for the farmers. On the other hand, farmers should get relevant information as to where these lands are and requirements of usage.
The land area in which the nation is sitting on is a fertile soil, coupled with a supporting climatic condition, boosts the potentials of the nation to be listed among the food exporting nations of the world. There are virgin lands that are yet untapped; also the ones that have been formerly cultivated, which can be assessed by the general public interested in agriculture at a very affordable rates. Government agricultural acquisitions should also be opened to the general public interested farming, with less stringent policies and requirements that could render it unattainable for farmers.
Financial assistance such as loan and grants should be given out more at the federal and state level to individuals and corporate organisations for agricultural use. In using the available land, production and profit can only be remarkable by investing substantial funds in it. While we understand that the loan policy is high because of interest rates, methods of payment should be considered as the strict and high rate could be a hindrance for farmers applying, in other words, agricultural banks and loans should be fully encouraged and supported, to make long-term loans available for interested persons. Grants with scrutiny should be given to worthy individuals to aid production.
Technology is an important factor to consider in food production. They are tools and machinery used to support agricultural enterprise. The world has evolved and gone beyond the use of manual/crude farm tools and methods to mechanized farming to boost food production on a large-scale, within a short period of time, saving time, energy and resources. Investments should be made in these modern technologies to boost food production. This is not only at cultivation level but also in processing and packaging levels. For instance, the old method of packing and storing tomatoes in woven baskets and transporting them in trucks from a very far distance with 80% loss can be improved on when they are placed in crates and transported in a cooling van to their specific destination staying fresh. Many will be salvaged and the more the produce, the cheaper it is for citizens and we can stop importing but soon start exporting. Individuals can invest in this area in exchange for cash.
Skilled farmers and personnel are also a major requirement. Most of the farmers in the nation presently are descendants of farmers of old and dwell in rural areas with little or no education or modern skills. The farming skills they have were passed down to them by their forefathers making it an archaic method of farming. It’s obvious that the world is evolving and a lot of things have to be updated as the nation’s population increases. Those archaic methods cannot increase food production. Skills can be learned by adequate training and can be used in various stages of production chain. More of practical should be solicited for than the theoretical aspect of it. People should be oriented and educated on subjects of agriculture and how individuals and nation can generate large output in food production.
Availability of infrastructural amenities such as electricity, water, good road, including agricultural storage facilities will no doubt encourage and increase food production in the nation. One reason people won’t go far into these villages to invest in their arable lands, is due to the lack of these basic amenities. The availability of water for irrigation in dry area and drought season will reduce the cause of death to crops which will result to plentiful. Good roads for transporting the produce from the point of production to the consumers in good time will increase the lifespan of the produce and reserve the nutritional and commercial value. Good storage facilities for these products will also increase the lifespan of consumable farm produce and prevent loss, while electricity will enhance good storage at manufacturing and retail stages. Furthermore, other challenges like low yield growth of major food and cash crops and land degradation could be addressed through the use of quality fertilizers to support the soil nutrients as well as fertility and improved growth yield for cash crops.
Stating all these, Nigeria is a country filled with numerous resources and agricultural gains, well enough to feed and sustain the nation. The greatest resource of course lies in the human resources due to the large population with potentials and intellectual capabilities, which constitutes and indomitable labour force to improve the nation’s food production. As said earlier, the government has a huge role to play and so as individuals in generating revenue at both the national and individual level. As an individual, there are enormous spaces to be filled in the agricultural sector. Find this space and start contributing to the increase of food production in the nation, and start making money.