FOOD SECURITY CAN BE ACHIEVED IN AFRICA IF……
-Former Vice Chancellor
A Professor of Zoology from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and one time Vice-Chancellor, Wesley University of Science and Technology, Ondo State, Tola Badejo has canvassed for a deliberate plan that will lead to adequate access to food that will guarantee food security in Sub-Sahara Africa. He stated this while delivering the keynote address at the 10th Annual Conference of the School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology (SAAT) held at the Theodore Idibiye Francis Auditorium of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA). Badejo who spoke on the theme “Challenges of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in Emerging Countries of Sub-Sahara Africa” described food insecurity as lack of access to enough food which can be either chronic or temporary, while food security and sustainability is access by all people at all time to sufficient food for an active and healthy life.
Professor Badejo noted that heavy dependence on imported fertilizers and construction of grandiose irrigation schemes have failed to solve the continent’s food insecurity. He said strategies to reverse this trend and for future development and exploitation of the Sahel Savanna should include the possibilities of introducing nutrient from animal source to rangelands. He said emphasis should be placed on development of rangelands in the Sahel because it is more suitable for production of livestock than crops. He said pastoralist grazing is the only good option after aerial application of phosphorous which in addition to nutrients from animal sources is capable of stimulating the growth of naturally occurring leguminous plants which will provide food for livestock. He said guaranteeing food security using Nigeria as a case study should include strategies for rural development; easy access to basic farm inputs; adequate budgetary allocations; appropriate policies for food sub-sector, political stability; reduction in poverty at the rural level, and peasant farmers’ education. He said if these points are wholly looked into, it will go a long way at resolving the challenges of food insecurity.
He said Sub-Saharan countries include all countries, South of Sahara which also consist of the Sahel and Savanna. The Don stated that in the Sahel, nutrient deficiency due to absence of trees pose a more serious threat to productivity of agricultural produce than lack of water. He revealed that an experiment carried out in the Southern Sahel showed that although water and nutrient should be in optimum supply, productivity can be increased five times under natural rainfall conditions when nutrients are in optimum supply and this suggests that lack of nutrients is a more serious problem in the Sahel than low rain fall.
He said Tree species that are endemic to the Savanna region are generalists which have broad niches and are therefore able to survive the wide range of environmental conditions provided in the Savanna of different time of the year. He further explained that these trees are highly compatible with crops, fix atmospheric nitrogen and provide fodder and fruits for games and livestock, unfortunately, they are scattered all over Savanna in spite of the call that their plantations should be established as part of a viable agreecological process to ensure sustainability of Agriculture in the Savanna.
Speaking earlier, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Rufus Ogunsemi said the theme would be of interest to many African countries because resolutions and action plans raised would help create awareness on how these challenges can be surmounted. Professor Fuwape said before the oil boom in Nigeria, agriculture was the main stay of the economy, however, in recent years, successive governments have shown interest in reforming Nigeria to her yester years of surplus agricultural yield. He said the Conference was to highlight the challenges of sustainable agriculture and food security and proffer solutions that would encourage productive and adaptable agricultural policies, therefore the theme for this Conference could not have been better timed as the issue of food security is very important. Professor Fuwape described the keynote Speaker, Professor Adetola Badejo as a seasoned environmentalist keenly interested in how to proffer solution to the challenges faced in attaining sustainable agriculture and food security in the emerging countries of sub-Sahara Africa. He commended the organisers and urged participants to see the lecture as an opportunity for agricultural experts and leaders to rub minds.
The Dean, School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology (SAAT), Professor Taiwo Amos, said SAAT is grateful to the University administration under the leadership of Professor Joseph Fuwape who has always supported the School. Professor Amos said the theme of the 2019 Conference is apt given the current population of Nigeria and its challenges of food insecurity and its status as an emerging economy. He said it was important to examine the challenges ahead as a nation and proffer workable solutions for sustainable food security.