FEMI IBIROGBA writes about how it would be possible to combat the growth of poverty in Nigeria using agriculture as a supporting weapon.
It is estimated that 87 million Nigerians in extreme poverty, Nigeria currently occupies the country with the highest number of extremely poor people who officially overtake India, home to 73 million of its citizens living in poverty.
The poverty indicator in India looks more insignificant than in Nigeria due to the estimated population of 1.3 billion people. 73 million make up 5.26% of Indians who live in extreme poverty.
In comparison with Nigeria, 87 million out of about 180 million account for 45% of Nigerians living in extreme poverty.
The weak growth of the formal economy (0.8% in 2017) suggests that employment in this space will be relatively inadequate to reduce the poverty and unstructured nature of the informal sector of the economy, combined with harsh conditions, poor energy supply and inadequate government interventions. all look gloomy.
According to Nigerian poverty statistics, poverty in the south-western part of the country in Nigeria is 19.3 percent; south-south, 25.2 percent; the south-east is about 27.4 percent; north-central – 42.6 percent; in the north-east – 76.8 percent, and poverty level in the north-west of Nigeria is 81.1 percent.
Search for Nigeria in the theory of demographic transition
The theory of demographic transition is one of the most important theories of the population put forward by W.S. Thompson (1929) and Frank W. Notestein (1945).
It was based on the trends in fertility and mortality experienced in Europe, North America and Australia, which indicates that a certain picture of the demographic movement from high fertility and high mortality to low fertility and low mortality, when the society develops from predominantly rural agricultural and illiterate society mainly in urban, industrial, literate and modern societies, which led to a shift in economic prosperity.
At the first stage, the birth rate is more than 35 per thousand, and the death rate is also high, amounting to more than 35 per thousand.
The behavior of mortality, however, is unstable due to epidemics and alternating feeding.
At this stage, a stable and slowly growing population is postulated, where people are engaged in a wasteful production process.
This stage occurs mainly in agrarian societies with low or moderate population density, low productivity, high infant mortality, religious orthodoxy, lack of education and poor medical care.
In these societies, large families are considered an asset.
Consequently, life expectancy is very low, the development of the agricultural sector is at an early stage, the masses are illiterate, there is no technological know-how, and the development of cities is limited.
About 300 years ago, all countries of the world were at this stage of the demographic transition.
The second stage of the theory is characterized by a high and gradual decline in the birth rate and a decrease in mortality.
While improving health and sanitation leads to a sharp decline in mortality, fertility maintains a high level, at least at an early stage.
As the second stage extends, the birth rate also shows signs of gradual decline.
At this stage, the population gradually increases, and then gradually decreases, and the mobilization of resources becomes significant. Life expectancy begins to improve.
Highlights industrialization, urbanization and modernization.
Large families are no longer an asset, and fertility is undergoing a gradual decline, resulting in a gradual reduction in the rate of natural growth at the end of the second stage.
Most developing countries of the world pass through this stage of the demographic transition because of the wide penetration of modern medicines, and sanitation measures have dramatically reduced the mortality rate, while their fertility rate is still high and, consequently, huge population growth.
By the end of the second stage are countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Iran, Yemen, Kenya and Indonesia.
Nigeria is still struggling to leave the first stage of the theory with a relatively high mortality rate and high birth rate. Illiteracy is still very high in some parts of the country, and life expectancy is extremely low.
Agricultural capacity in combating poverty
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbe, while giving a lecture at the Catholic Church of St. Agnes in Maryland, Lagos, on 26 August, acknowledged that the population growth rate was alarming compared to food production and employment.
Ogbeh said that if Nigeria can supply more than 40% of the world's demand for palm oil to oil, and if cocoa is the highest source of foreign exchange for Nigeria before oil, agriculture has the potential to produce food for all Nigerians and raw materials for manufacturing plants, who have the capacity to lead in creating more jobs for Nigerians.
He stressed the use of technologies and improved varieties of crops that will help the country to experience a jump in crop production and overcome poverty.
Director of the Department of Biotechnology of the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Dr. Adekun Orezegun, proposing ways to turn agriculture into an instrument to combat poverty, says that science and technology have made it possible to identify soil and crop compatibility, and every part of Nigeria should identify and grow crops that maximize the return on investment.
According to him, livestock, including livestock and aquaculture, are means of sustainable income that could give Nigerians a decent livelihood.
Dr. Oresegun recommended the mechanization of agriculture at all levels of cultivation, genetic manipulation of species (rather than modification) that could lead to faster growth and increased productivity; and the development of post-harvest technologies and their application in value chains to attract more workers and value as part of the transformation of agriculture into a sustainable labor employer and a tool to combat poverty.
The president of the All Farmers Association (AFAN), Ibrahim Kabir, said that one way to positively influence the situation is that "the government needs to create favorable conditions for agriculture to succeed by providing farmers with good seeds and other resources, storage facilities and limited protectionism ".
He added that it is necessary to develop the ability to process, including mechanization and adding value, as well as marketing, saying that, on the part of individuals, agriculture should be made as an enterprise to exit poverty.
Ayoola Fatona, head of the department of agribusiness and microinsurance, insurance company Leadway Insurance explained that agriculture can be used to fight poverty in Nigeria, ensuring that investments in agriculture give a high level of profit, rather than a thin profit.
High profitability will make agriculture more attractive to investors, and the results will be used to combat poverty.
To achieve this, he added, it is advisable to adopt an approach based on the use of a value chain for investment in agriculture.
The value chain approach regards agriculture as a business, and it recognizes that agricultural production must be demand driven.
"Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the value chain in agriculture will increase the benefits to all participants in the value chain and will contribute to food security and poverty reduction in Nigeria," Fatona said, and improvements in value chains can be strengthened by ensuring that risks in these value chains are properly managed. "
He added that agricultural insurance remains one of the most effective risk management tools in the process of growing, aggregating and within these value chains.
Dr. Kayode Ogunjobi, Forestry and Wildlife Department of the Federal Agricultural University, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), said that when agricultural resources were readily available and backed up by appropriate policies in the areas of production, processing and storage, poverty would be mitigated.
Mrs. Moji Carigidi, a biochemist and product developer at Moepelorse Bio Resources, based in Ibadan, said that in order to combat poverty, the government should invest more in agriculture, developing rural communities where large-scale agricultural activities take place.
According to her, providing basic infrastructure in rural areas will not only improve the lives of rural residents, but will also allow them to increase the value of their products, adding that eliminating energy supply problems will help fight poverty.
She said that good road networks for farmers will make rural areas easily accessible to buyers and processors, and farmers can move their products cheaply to urban centers and markets.
Ms. Karigidi said that agriculture is an effective tool to combat unemployment, and this can be achieved by making it attractive for young people.
"I also want to propose that the federal government and the states provide modern agricultural machines with irrigated agricultural land, improved and highly productive seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural resources. Qualified and unskilled labor can be used to provide labor. "
She suggested that investments can be deducted from the annual sales of the beneficiaries until the investment is repaid.
This, she said, could lead thousands of Nigerians out of the street if the program is implemented in every state of the federation.
Dr Francis Nvilen, Regional Coordinator of the Rice Center for Africa, Ibadan, explained that to improve the living standards of Nigerians and to earn millions above poverty, smallholder farmers who make up the bulk of the agricultural sector and 70% of them are responsible for eat Nigerians, should be authorized to increase productivity.
"The question is, how can you help these people save them from poverty?
We need to change the perception of the Nigerians to start considering agriculture as a business, "said Nvilena," and if this makes up the business, it means that farmers are in business, and this implies production not only for themselves, but now they see it as a source income to provide for themselves and their families. "
To help smallholder farmers and their financially dependent, the African Rice Center boss suggested that the public sector should take the initiative, as the private sector can not produce enough food to satisfy Nigeria.
"So, you still need small farmers to produce and buy from them to put money in their pockets.
Thus, you empower them, because they know that there is a ready-made market that will buy its products, "said Nvilin.
Lip maintenance in agriculture
CRITICS of the government argued that claims and statements did not shift to practical investment, budgetary obligations and political will to make agriculture a pillar of the economy.
The Maputo and Malabo declarations, signed by Nigeria, did not lead to better budgetary allocations for the sector.
The declarations stipulate that African countries will allocate at least 10 percent of their annual budgetary allocations for the development of agriculture, so Nigeria does not allocate such a sector.
The project coordinator, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), David Ayodele, advocated increased investment in some crops such as cassava, cocoa and cashews, among others, for the work of more graduates and farmers. He said that the government should talk, investing in agricultural mechanization
The preacher of the Federal Agricultural College (FCA), Dr. Babajide Adelekan, Ibadan, expressed optimism that agriculture could be used to combat poverty if the government did its utmost to increase and stabilize the production, transmission and distribution of electricity, that industrialization can not be sustainable using diesel generators.
This, in his opinion, means a serious investment and sincerity of purpose.