The National Agricultural Foundation of Nigeria (NAFN) has identified small-holder farmers as the backbone of agricultural development of the country.
Mr Abdullahi Adamu, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of NAFN, said this at the on-going National Agriculture Show and World Food Day on Thursday in Tundun Wada, Nasarawa State.
The theme for 2021 agricultural show is “Celebrating the resilience and roles of small-holder farmers in sustaining food systems in Nigeria’’.
Adamu further described them as the heroes of agricultural development in the country and the survival of the nation and citizens in spite of all odds.
He, however, emphasised that those segment of the society were excluded in government policies and programmes in the area of funding and incentives.
Adamu noted: “these farmers are being celebrated not out of sentiment but genuine conviction that they deserve national acknowledgement for their capacity to survive in good and bad weather and to be able to feed us’’.
Adamu emphasised that their resilience and focus in agriculture had saved the nation from the embarrassment of losing its independence from total dependence on other nations to feed its citizens.
He commended the farmers for their unflinching contributions to the nation’s drive toward food sufficiency.
According to him, these men and women have continued to do magic with smallholding farming through good and bad weather, policies’ summersault and inconsistencies in government agricultural programmes since independence of the nation.
“Successive Federal and State administrations have disappointed them but they have never disappointed the nation and the citizens.
“They feed us and provide the raw materials for our agro-based industries. They do not receive appropriate compensations for their steering contributions to our national development but yet have not failed.
“They are the proverbial monkeys that work for the baboons to eat, through sickness or otherwise they remain unshaken in their individual and collective resolve to feed the nation.
“Their resilience is our national pride. Without them this nation will not survive, we will starve. I salute them,“ he said.
Adamu said that the Federal and State governments must provide a conducive environment for our farmers as well as the necessary tools to lead the task against looming food security challenges.
According to him, we must improve their lots by deed and not by words and make them the primary beneficiaries of their sweat and in tilling the land.
Speaking on the agric show he identified the 2021 celebration as the 14th in the series.
According to him, the 2020 event was not held against the background of two worrisome developments such as COVID-19 pandemic and heightened security challenges.
“The heightened insecurity in the country particularly in the rural areas where the small-holder farmers reside has taken a heavy toll on the small farmers and their farming activities.
“The three northern geopolitical zones are held hostage by kidnappers and bandits daring their precious lives.
“Farmers abandoned their farms because it is no longer safe for them which is tragic to the country in terms of food security now or in future,“ he said.
Dr Samuel Negedu, National Coordinator of the foundation, noted that the theme was selected in recognition of the efforts of small-holder farmers to meet over 90 per cent of staple food needs of Nigerians.
He said this was done in the face of daunting economic and security challenges.
“Small-holder farmers constitute 80 per cent of farmers who put food on our tables in spite of security and economic challenges,” he said.
The National Agricultural Show which began in 2007 avails stakeholders in agriculture the opportunity to showcase their produce and value chain technological innovation among others.