They made the suggestion in Enugu while speaking with Radio Nigeria.
The United Nations Committee on World Food Security defines food security as the condition in which all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritional food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for active and healthy life.
Going by the definition, one may not be out of place to say that individuals who are food-secured do not live in hunger or fear of starvation, but what is the situation on ground in the country in terms of food security.
The Traditional Ruler of Agu-Ukehe in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State, Igwe Emmanuel Ama and a resident of Enugu metropolis, Chief Celestine Ofonabo explained that obtaining basic food items was increasingly becoming difficult for an average Nigerian because of their high prices.
‘’A painter of garri we usually purchase at eight hundred or one thousand naira. You go to beans,we have been using four hundred naira to get, we buy it one thousand something a painter. Yam is now a staple for rich people. There is no food now. When you are hungry and sickness comes to you, you die easily than somebody who has food. The economy is so bad’’.
Also speaking on the issue, a farmer in the State, Dr Onyema Nwodo attributed the rise in the prices of food items to increase in cost of making them available.
‘’If you go to the market, food is coming out in large quantities, what we don’t have is money to buy them. The cost of production is high, for example, how much is a bag of fertilizer, herbicide, cost of gas, labour is very high in Nigeria.’’
Dr Nwodo stressed the need for more budgetary allocations to the agricultural sector to meet the food needs of the country’s teeming population.
Another resident of Enugu metropolis, Professor Peter Dieke who described affordability as a function of ability to pay, advised people to make necessary adjustment to accommodate the changing reality.
‘’If things change, we must adjust. My counterpart did this and therefore I must do it, no. Do as nature has said it.’’
The Secretary, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Enugu Branch, Mr. Romanus Eze mentioned unavailability of land for cultivation, inadequate improved varieties of farm inputs, fertilizers and tractors as well as destruction of farmland by herdsmen as major challenges confronting farmers.
‘’If government can secure a land, hundred, two hundred hectares, we will clear them. You will have cluster of farmers who will work there. If we have cluster farming, government can monitor them. It is easier to send Extension officers to monitor them, it will be easier to collect farm produce at a point.’’
On efforts of the Enugu state Government to ensure food sufficiency at affordable prices, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr. Mike Eneh said farmers were being supported to increase production through irrigation.
‘’What we try to do is support them with irrigation pumps to pump water from the river into the field to grow crops. If you go to Iga and other places, you see farmers planting rice.’’
Mr. Eneh also noted that lime was being distributed to farmers to reduce soil acidity.
The Commissioner encouraged farmers to seek information through their cooperative societies to benefit from opportunities designed to assist them in various value chains.