Farmers, under the auspices of the Ondo State Agricultural Commodities Association (OSACA), on Wednesday, warned of an imminent famine that would further worsen the already bad situation of the agriculture sector of the country.
Their chairman, Chief Akin Olotu, in a statement made available to journalists in Akure, the state capital said that the farmers were being unfairly treated.
“If the situation continues, then one doesn’t need to be a prophet to know that famine is looming largely in this part of the country”, he said.
Olotu linked the impending doom to erratic rainfall pattern this year, which Nigeria Meteorological Institute (NIMET) had earlier warned that rain would come late and go early this year.
He lamented that “by May, it is not steady yet. Those that planted maize in anticipation that the rain would be steady by now are licking their wounds. Our agriculture in this part of Nigeria is largely, rain fed.”
According to him: “As if this is not enough, the outbreak of army worm in Ondo State is another blow. Most of the maize farms have been ravaged by worms. The outbreak was triggered by the change in the climatic condition.
“The third blow is coming from the herdsmen. Farmers are leaving the farm, because they consider it useless and needless to invest their scarce resources, time and energy in it only for the ‘sacred herdsmen and their sacred cattle’ (apology to Prof. Wole Soyinka), to ravage it over-night and even attack them with impunity.”
He called for the adoption of a new farming system that is sustainable, while noting that it would only become a reality with a complete re-orientation of the farming populace.
Olotu said that it ws time to emphasise or give preference to organic fertilizer (compost making etc.) which would help in improving soil structure and better water retention.
“Our research institutes should come up with drought-tolerant varieties, and farmers down South should begin to try their hands on crops like sorghum and potato which have lesser demand for water.”
Reacting to the herdsmen menace against farmers, he said members of OSACA “insist that the genuine and peace-loving ones should submit themselves to registration and identification, so that tracking the trouble-makers that are alleged to be non-Nigerians, will be identified easily. There is no other way out.”
The association suggested that the South-West Governors to should convene a regional meeting, as a matter of urgency, and seek a common stand on the challenges confronting the farmers.
He also advised the farmers to voice out their problems by visiting the office of the Agricultural development Project (ADP) in the state or OSACA office for advice on their challenges.