Nigeria Young Farmers Network (NYFN) has described the Federal Government’s decision to partially import maize and other banned crops as capable of dampening the efforts of mobilizing young people to engage in the agricultural sector in a rapidly dwindling economy.
It said that youth apathy towards agriculture was a major challenge the body is working hard to reverse, adding that anything short of full support to achieve that will be counter productive for the nation.
Director General/ National Coordinator of (NYFN), Promise Amahah, expressed the group’s opposition to government’s plan.
“During our emergency meeting on August 4, 2020, our attention was drawn to the rather unfortunate news that the government had granted approval for some selected companies to import maize into the country due to the need to strike a balance between food imports and local production capacities to meet anticipated shortfall.
“The reason stated above begs for proper elucidation as it is incomprehensible and totally inexplicable. It is even more disheartening, demoralizing, disturbing and demeaning considering that as an organization, we have made concerted efforts to ramp up local production in response to the anticipated shortfall by mobilizing young people (mostly unemployed) to participate in our already developed nationwide program tagged; “raise a million farmers.
“As an organisation 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 at 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. It appears to be a typical case of “do I say but not as I do.
“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. Let’s even do a quick maths; the average yield of maize is about four tons per hectare. Multiply four tons per hectare by 10 million farmers (assuming each farmer is to a hectare). That instantly gives you an idea why we are crying foul. 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 noted.
The network described maize as ubiquitous, saying it is one of the special crops that grows everywhere in Nigeria.
“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.
“Corruption on the part of public officers, varying risk perception, weak institutions, rising taxes, weak economic growth, fiscal deficit and financial sector constraints. It is expected that the trend would continue to skyrocket even beyond the period of study going by the high rate of political unrest, lack of confidence in the domestic economy, and corruption on the part of public officials in the country(eajournals)”.
“The above clearly shows how firmly this selective approval for maize importation is an obvious “kneeling on our neck” as young Nigerians and we honestly can no longer breathe in these circumstances. We will never put off our mic on this one! Never!! You can’t charge young people to take charge while you remain in charge,” the association said.