By Farmer Samson Ogbole
As we gradually say goodbye to 2020 with every tick of the clock, 2021 awaits with great opportunities and risk. The biggest of risk remains food – with the impact of COVID 19, END SARS and climate change, farmers has had to dig deep to ensure food supply. This is seen today with the constant increase in food price, and this could get worse in 2021, however we can all play a part to ensure we are food secure all through 2021 and beyond.
I believe food production should not be seasonal because hunger is not seasonal, however knowing this doesn’t magically fix the issue of food security. Food security deals with 5 key areas: Food must be available, accessible, affordable, healthy and consistent. To ensure this there are 4 things we can all do:
- Home gardening: There has never been a time such as this that it is most important, everyone needs to find a way to grow something, a few vegetables, edible flowers, herbs etc. You don’t have to grow everything, just a little, and we can have the stress on the farmer reduced by growing our perishables. There are many who can guide – from soil based, to sack farms, soilless farms, vertical farms, etc. They can also give the aesthetic looks.
- Develop lands: A few of us own lands already which we are not using yet, you can use them to grow, you can collaborate in estates to create gardens, replace flowers with edible plants, they can even be edible flowers.
- Engage your food system: For many of us we do not even know where our food comes from – all we know is the grocery stores. This is the time to get to know the farmers, invest for food and not monetary profits, this way you are certain of food at a pre-agreed price year round.
- Curb food waste: We must also take it a step further to ensure we do not waste resources – our waste bin should be filled with waste and not left over foods, expired or uneaten foods. We need to curtail our eating habit, check our buying habit. We must realize that a fruit doesn’t look fine like peach category A doesn’t make it any less nutritious. We must realize the last fruit in the grocery store doesn’t mean it is bad as this feeling has led groceries to over stock just for customers to buy.
In addition to the above for personal, we can also look at community based food security, where we are not just looking out for ourselves but for others. We can look at these 3 areas:
- Competitive advantage: Grow crops in the community or area that the climatic condition supports best, or because of proximity to market or any other thing that gives an edge. It is not okay to struggle to grow, struggle to sell and remain in poverty
- Green areas: We can deliberately start working towards creating small farms or gardens in our estates, community, place of worship, work place etc. You can grow crops, rear snails or any other thing that helps to ensure food security. Schools can have farms dedicated to food production all year round; it is not about the volume but about consistency.
- Empower not sustain: This period we will have many reach out to us to help, rather than give a fish teach how to fish. Don’t just give funds to start a farm, have a part of the funds dedicated to salary so they build a business – help the young and vulnerable create a brand from agribusiness and not just another hustler. Teach them not to pick uo farming (business) because there is not work, as they won’t be truly focused on the business, make them see the agribusiness is first for fulfillment and money is a by-product in exchange for the value created.
We must always remember, everything else can wait but food, and in 2021, there is a famine that looms, don’t be a victim. As Nigeria enters recession, it doesn’t mean no money, it only means money is changing ownership, flowing from those who cant create tangible values to those who can right now. With Nigerians spending over 60% of their income on food, no better time to be food secure than right now – and maybe even earn from it