FOOD CRISIS: Reps call for creation of geo-agricultural zones

Leah TwakiJuly 2, 20244 min

The creation of geo-agricultural zones is prescribed by the representative as a solution to the growing food shortages in the country

Food Crisis: Reps call for creation of Geo-Agricultural zones

In a bid to address the pressing issue of food shortages, the House of Representatives has called for the establishment of geo-agricultural zones across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

The House urged the federal and state governments to demarcate a minimum of 18,000 hectares of arable land in each of these zones and designate them as geo-agricultural zones.

The House further mandated the ministry of agriculture and food security to appoint seasoned agriculturists in each zone to be called geo-agricultural zone project managers (GaZPM). These managers will be responsible for cultivating the designated lands using mechanization and the produce stored in the national food bank.

These resolutions were passed following a motion of urgent importance titled “the need to end food insecurity through mechanized agricultural revolution across the country” sponsored by Rep. Clement Jimbo (APC, Akwa Ibom) on Tuesday on the floor of the green chambers.

READ ALSO: Food Insecurity: Gombe lawmakers accuse FG of deceit says no grains in the silos

Leading the debate, Rep. Jimbo highlighted the critical need for a structured approach to agriculture, recognizing that Nigeria boasts a total of 70.8 million hectares of agricultural land, of which 34 million hectares are arable. The land, he said, is capable of effectively growing crops such as maize, rice, cassava, guinea corn, yam, palm oil, and beans with minimal soil improvement.

He reminded the House that the National Assembly is tasked with making laws for the peace, order, and good governance of the federation, as outlined in Section 4(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). He also referenced Section 16(1) of the Constitution, which mandates the state to harness the nation’s resources to promote national prosperity and a self-reliant economy.

“Agriculture remains the foundation of our country’s economy, providing livelihoods for most Nigerians and generating millions of jobs,” Rep. Jimbo noted, citing the Food and Agricultural Organization’s findings. He acknowledged the federal government’s intervention strategies, including the release of fertilizers to farmers, distribution of grains to households, and the activation of land banks.

According to the National Agricultural Sample Census Report, 2022, Nigeria has 40.2 million agricultural households. This report, supported by the Bureau of Statistics, the World Bank, and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), highlighted the critical role of agriculture in the economy and the sector’s challenges, including outdated data hindering effective planning and resource allocation.

Rep. Jimbo expressed concern that despite significant financial appropriations and human resources, the current food insecurity persists. “The high cost of food products, driven by insufficient supply to meet high demand, can lead to malnutrition, psychological distress, and other adverse outcomes, including depression,” he warned.

He therefore recognized the capacity of each region of the country to produce different farm products citing examples with the north and south. “Millets, sorghum, maize, groundnuts, beans, rice, tomato, carrot etc grow very well in the north while cassava, yam, maize, palm oil, cucumber, maize, cotton etc do very well in the south.”

The Deputy Speaker, Rep. Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia), who presided over the session, referred the motion to the committee on agricultural production and services to monitor compliance.

STAR Check: Nigerians, particularly, constituents of Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika federal constituency, can keep tabs on the legislative performance of Rep. Jimbo throughout the 10th House here.

Photo credit: Featured image sourced from Daily Nigerian website

Leah Twaki

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