Agricultural politics

(By Kolawole Oludamilare Dan)

In government today, everyone in all tiers, sectors and sub-sectors is a politician and it has to be that way for corruption to thrive. To keep saying agriculture is the way out of unemployment in this country is to keep saying this country will remain poor in the midst of plenty. What will simply solve the problem of unemployment is industrialisation, where there can be mass training and re-training to produce what we consume/and export; to give value and dignity to lives by what we can do with our hands. What we need from the government is to open up the economy by creating an enabling and sustaining environment for development to naturally take its course.  A policy like the importation of phones for farmers when we can be trained to manufacture phones for everyone is certainly not the way to go.

BEING a holder of B. Agric. degree from one of Nigerian finest universities, I am familiar with the major agriculture fields such as agricultural economics, agricultural extension and rural development, agronomy, crop protection and animal science. However, years after graduation and having been let into how things are practically run in the society when it comes to agriculture, I have decided to coin out one last field of study in Agriculture that I was never taught while in school… ‘Agricultural Politics.’

The definition, if you will not mind to know is simply the using of Agriculture which is the occupation of the masses to bemuse the masses in order to win their support and ultimately their votes during elections.

I have lost count on the number of times bags of fertilizer for example were politically used by politicians to influence decisions of poor farmers on who to vote and who not to vote for… and this goes for all other agricultural policies in this country. They are mostly politically motivated.

I am sure am not the only one agonising over this line of thought. Maybe I am the only one who gets more puzzled anytime the government repeats one of their popular lines. We have heard ad infinitum that agriculture sector remains the only sector that can absorb the millions of youths now unemployed and underemployed in the country. This statement from the government has remained ‘political’ and not ‘developmental’ because there is no developed nation in the world that has agriculture sector as its biggest employer of labour.

If Nigeria is hoping and willing to join the league of the first 20 developed countries in the world, then it should have a vision sharper than absorbing a gigantic portion of its population in agriculture.  Rather, it should be more creative and determined to pay the price of turning the country into an industrialised nation where the most labour will be gainfully absorbed.The invention of efficient and clear-cut agricultural machinery has demonstrated that more people on the farm are simply ‘old school’ and a sign of crudity in the economy. In the U.S. for example, only 1-2 per cent of the population feeds the remaining 98-99 per cent. This goes for all other developed nations where some even have less than 1 per cent on the farm.

In Australia, each Australian farmer produces enough to feed 600 people, 150 at home and 450 overseas; Japan has less than 1 per cent of its population claiming to be farmers; Denmark has a population of 5.5 million people and produces food for 15 million people.

The cost of industrialisation is ‘huge’ for this government because it will mean that they, the politicians, will be letting the economy run itself without them having the sole power to influence it. We know that from their misconduct that our politicians do not want. It will also mean that expatriates who most times find it difficult in understanding the language corruption speaks will have to be involved in the building of our economy, especially agriculture. This also, our leaders do not want for the same reason of greed. Our leaders want to keep living like kings when in the real sense they were elected to be servants. In government today, everyone in all tiers, sectors and sub-sectors is a politician and it has to be that way for corruption to thrive.

To keep saying agriculture is the way out of unemployment in this country is to keep saying this country will remain poor in the midst of plenty. What will simply solve the problem of unemployment is industrialisation, where there can be mass training and re-training to produce what we consume/and export; to give value and dignity to lives by what we can do with our hands. What we need from the government is to open up the economy by creating an enabling and sustaining environment for development to naturally take its course.  A policy like the importation of phones for farmers when we can be trained to manufacture phones for everyone is certainly not the way to go.

Kolawole, Oludamilare Dan is a farmer and public speaker in Ibadan.

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

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