The South and food security
By Charles Ogbu
Let me say this and let me say it without mincing word;
The South especially this generation of Igbos – my own ethnic stock – has a non-challant attitude towards farming. Our attitude towards farming is one we need to review if we are serious about confronting the criminal arrogance of our Northern neighbours.
Truth is, if Nigeria were to FORECEFULLY break up today or the Arewa North chooses to stop selling food stuff to the South, THERE WILL BE A MAJOR FOOD CRISES IN THE SOUTH. Argue this all you want but deep down, you know it’s the truth and I know that you know.
Back in the good old days when treetops used to be the abode of the squirrel, an Igbo man’s wealth is determined by the size of his yam barn and cassava farm. Then, every Igbo mother had a small farm right there in her compound where she cultivated fresh vegetables like ugu, ugbogoro, pepper, tomatoes etc. You could go to an Igbo home and the mother of the house just need to go to her backyard to pluck everything needed to make fresh soup.
Now, we see farming mostly as the exclusive preserve of the poor. Once you are in Lagos, Abuja or abroad – for the more privileged ones, you automatically feel there is no need for those farming ‘nonsense’ since you can always buy from those who plant. You view farming as subjecting your parents and family and yourself to stress. This is the mindset but I tell you, it is a very dangerous one.
As one who have transversed many Igbo villages, I can authoritatively tell you that it is becoming easier to find a virgin in the maternity ward than to find a yam barn in an Igbo home no matter how wealthy the family is.
I know that many of you will want to argue with Charles on this but let me remind us that the worst mistake a man can make is to lie to himself and go ahead to believe his own lie.
Yes, the murderous activities of the govt-sponsored Fulani terrorist herdsmen are PARTLY responsible for our poor attitude to farming because when they destroy your farms twice WITH IMPUNITY, I doubt you’d have the motivation to go back to farm next season BUT truth be told, this is not just about the herdsmen. It is more of attitudinal thing of:
‘Why farm when you can buy all the farm produce from the ‘poor farmers’? We think having billions in the banks, dozens of containers in the high sea and shopping malls in Abuja and Lagos is enough. But what of FOOD SECURITY? If push comes to shove, will you put your billions in the pot and cook as food??
During COVID-19 when inter-state movement was banned and trucks bringing food stuff from the North was partially affected, perishable food stuff like tomatoes, vegetables pawpaw, watermelon etc became quite scarce in major market in the South.
Now that it is becoming increasingly clear that this FORCED UNION with our Arewa Northern neighbours is no longer sustainable, the South especially the youths need to go beyond verbal gymnastics and start preparing in the real sense of the word.
There is nothing the North is bringing to the South that the South cannot cultivate for herself. We have the land. We have the man power and the technical know-how.
Currently, I own a piggery, a big cassava farm and I’m about enrolling under Dr Nnaemeka Obiaraeri for useful guide on fruits and vegetable farming.
We must stop leaving our enemies in charge of our kitchen. Food Security is as important as every other form of security, if not the most important, even!
A people who cannot stop an evil rain from falling should at least take measures to stop themselves from being beaten by the rain.
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