By Dan Jacobs
There is currently a disastrous slump in aggregate food and agricultural production in this eastern region. This is because the sector was and has continued to be neglected.
But thankfully, governments of the South Eastern states seemed to have realized this when they recently rallied to a meeting on the issue. After meeting, they announced their intention to move up agric. investment in the zone. The governors expressed optimism that the zone will become “Nigeria’s agric. hub in the next few years”.
This move is very welcome, provided the intention will be realized. Such expression of intent has been made several times in the past, but nothing happened. They were not followed up.
The result is the contagion that hunger and starvation have become in recent times in our zone.
In the reported intention of the governments, it is to be regretted that vital departments of the agric. sector were omitted. The aspects are forestry, horticulture, fishery, animal husbandry, grains and the cultivation and processing of fruits and vegetables. Even modern storage and marketing cannot be forgotten when the zone is investing comprehensively in agriculture. We remind the governments to take cognizance of these aspects too. We note with dismay that the neglect in agriculture has been more profound in Imo and Abia states.
However, we support and applaud the new move on agriculture as timely. Timely because the zone faces dire conditions socially and politically which are aggravated by shortage of food and agricultural services and supplies.
Not only are there shortages, costs have become explosive and unaffordable. If there was ever a time to do something about agric. and food supplies, especially in Imo state, the time is now. An awful lot depends on what the governments can come up with without further delay. This is the time to intervene as budgets are being prepared for next year. The resources toward improved agricultural production must be assembled now, or it will be too late again in the day.
Hopes have been raised again for an ultimate and much anticipated agricultural revolution. And this is expected to be all-embracing to engage all the dormant labor forces and resources in the zone, and save lives of all those have no food to eat, especially children and the aged who are most vulnerable and are dying of hunger and starvation.
By Dan Jacobs