On our tour to the farming village at Olounda, in commemoration of the world food day, I’m drawn to the Phillip Plein logo on the okada man’s yellow shirt.
The shirt’s conspicuousness is obvious to the eyes as most fake labels are wont to do.
Pandering to the consumerist ego that stems from the need to wear a certain design. Imitations thrive at the expense of our inadequacies.
We buy them because it creates a false sense of belonging. Our brother’s in the Southeast have cashed in on this by branding their creations with foreign labels.
Few minutes into the journey some days before world food day, we hit a gridlock. The traffic had been building up over the years on that particular route. Potholes ravage the road, eating deep into the coal tar, revealing the redness of clay.
In our mutual dissatisfaction we bemoan the state of the road.
The okada man says the road is bad because the government wants to extort money from commuters through the trace officials littered around to regulate the traffic.
As illogical as his submission seems, I’m forced rationalize his hypothesis.
What if we demand for better roads by deciding to pay the toll fees invariably owing the rights to our roads, weaning ourselves from the bureaucracy of the government?
How do you demand certainty from a system that you barely invest much into?
A system that feeds on itself by teaching you to grab whatever you can because there’s rarely a motivation for you to give your all.
The last time we registered a group at a local government, we spent over double the amount to bring it to fruition. You pay to hasten the process because there are thousands waiting.
Most files are abandoned for lack of bribe or “long – leg.”
Civil service is a carcass left to be scavenged by civil servants. If we are to eat at the table of equity, would our hands be clean enough to order a meal? Can we vouch for ourselves at all levels of government?
As our team landed at the Baale’s palace in Olounda to address the farmers in commemoration of world food day. Skepticism loomed large. They had heard these stories before.
Several groups under the guise of helping out had sold out forms to them with nothing to show for it.
They wanted to know if we were another government apparatus who had come to sell them a false hope. We had to assuage their fears with clear cut answers from a barrage of questions.
Some reluctantly agreed to come with us to show us their farms. They wanted to know what they stood to gain.
It’s easy to see why they were victims of that which they dreaded. Their reluctance stemmed from the lack of monetary entitlements.
We had to make them see that our topmost priority was the productivity of their farms. That we were there to see what they needed and how to help out.
We had barely gotten to the first farm when an old man slightly hunched from years of farming approached us.
From afar his hostility was palpable. His grievance at those who sold them a pipe dream in the past was transferred on us.
It’s hard not to be mad at these things. Two bags of fertilizers used to sell for 5,500 but now they bought a bag for 8,500.
The fertilizer subsidy hijacked by cronyism. People were lobbying their way around these unenlightened farmers.
Subsistent farmers grow most of the food consumed in Nigeria. But these farmers last had a government intervention five years ago.
It says much about our ability to sustain our priorities as a nation. Most of the schemes touted by the government are quick fixes, paraded in a bid to win the sympathy of the public.These structures do not last long.
Some of the farmers lamented on how cattle would occasionally invade their farmland.
For all our arguments against ranching, it is a good way of limiting this skirmishes.
Ranches can be regulated and controlled as operators of such ranches will be documented. Farmers are more vulnerable when cattle graze randomly.
Another farmer, Mr Lukman bemoaned the fall in Cocoa prices. A year ago they sold a stone of cocoa for 56,000 naira, this year they were selling at half that price.
The depreciation in prices meant that the farmers who paid laborers to clear the land ended up being shortchanged as the money spent clearing the same piece of land last year was also spent this year but, with lower sales.
Apart from the fall in Cocoa prices, there was also the challenge of climate change.
Climate change affected their farms. The excessive rainfall made the farms vulnerable to black pod disease.
In our bid to help proffer some solutions to some of the diseases affecting their crops a curious thing happened.
One of the farmers whose farm was suffering from cassava mosaic virus had been applying pesticides on his crops.
Initial efforts to sensitize him was met with arguments of how they were the ones who were doing the practical aspects of farming, that we were just theorist.
The condescension for Agric extension services is engendered by the lack of technical know-how being impressed upon by our institutions.
Most students go into school with a different mindset. The mindset of working in administrative positions.
This mindset creates a disconnection with skill acquisition. A lot of effort should be channeled into creating curriculum that fit into problem solving. That way we can awaken their consciousness to the realities around them.
MyFarmBase has been researching on smart ways to tackle the problem of food insecurity since it’s launch over a year ago.
This has led us into asking salient questions from those on the field, going into farms, speaking with consultants and networking with independent farmers in different areas.
Armed with this experience and knowledge, the team was able to show them clips of practical ways in which they could solve some of these problems.
We ended our tour at the Baale’s palace, reiterating our commitment to them. The Baale confirmed their fears. They had gone through this rodeo in the past and were yet to see any headway.
To commemorate the world food day we want to help these farmers, to give them a sense of their worth. The future of our nutrition rests on their shoulders.
Can you help us in making this dream a reality even beyond world food day?
We have identified 30 farmers in that community who are plagued with one or more challenges in their farms and would need support to at least feed themselves first before they think of feeding the nation.
Do you know where we can get seedlings (Maize, Cucumber, Cashew, Cocoa, Cassava), PPE (Boot, farm hat, gloves, Nose cover, Farm wears), Fertilizers, insecticides etc that we can give to them?
You can refer us there so we can get some to give to them.
Do you have knowledge of Climate Smart Agriculture, can you volunteer to train them on climate smart agricultural practices? Please write us. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Do you have cash that you can spare no matter how small? This is the time to be of help to someone.
You can use our paystack link to donate or do a transfer to our Corporate account.
Account Name: MyFarmBase Enterprises
Account No: 1015885761
Bank: Zenith Bank
Let’s #EndHunger together beyond world food day
World Food Day is a chance to show our commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.