By Babatunde Jose
By the year 2050, world population that now stands at 7.5 billion would have risen exponentially; Nigeria would then become the 6th most populous country in the world, with Lagos being one of the largest cities in the world. The challenge? Put in bluntly apocalyptic terms, the planet must produce “more food in the next four decades than all farmers in history have harvested over the past 8,000 years,” said a foremost scientist. That is because, by 2050 the Earth will be home to as many as 10 billion people. Therefore, if massive increases in agricultural yield are not achieved, matched by massive decreases in the use of water and fossil fuels, a billion or more people may face starvation. Hunger could be the 21st century’s most urgent problem: The most affected would be the African continent, particularly Nigerians.
How would we feed our teeming population, with the current spate of food insecurity, state sponsored stealing festivals and lack of attention to developments in the world around us; coupled with a lackadaisical and ‘devil may care’ attitude to planning for development. By the year 2050, Lagos is projected to have a population of 32.6 Million; and by the turn of the century its population will rise to 88.3 million, making Lagos the biggest city in the world. Other Nigerian cities that would experience exponential population increase are Kano 24.5M, Ibadan 20.5M, Abuja 16.28M, Kaduna 11.45M, Benin 9.66M, Port Harcourt 8.15M, Ogbomosho 7.64M, Maiduguri and Zaria with 7.16 and 7.13 million respectively. The question therefore arise: What will they eat? How will we feed them?
There is no doubt efforts are being made to develop our agricultural production; but food production is most crucial. Presently we rank 1st in the world in the production of Cassava, Yam and Sheanut; 2nd in cashew and Okra; 3rd in Sorghum and peanuts (groundnuts); 4th in Cocoa, Ginger, Pawpaw and goat. Only few of these commodities can feed our people. Hence, we need to do more: We need to produce more cereals (millet, wheat, maize and rice), tubers and other food crops. To do more, we need a leadership that is not only focused and capable of leading us to the Promised Land; we also need a leadership that will stop stealing our commonwealth and channel our resources to the production of goods and services that would engender a bountiful harvest for our farmers. Allah said:
It is He Who hath made you (His) agents, inheritors of the earth: He hath raised you in ranks, some above others: That He may try you in the gifts He hath given you: For thy Lord is quick in punishment: Yet He is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Quran 6:165)
We have once been leaders in the production of many produce, (Rubber, palm oil, palm kernel, cotton etc., but as a result of our cursed leadership, we abandoned our paradise and started chasing the oil. Now, we know better. Nigeria has the third largest area harvested for tomatoes, but the lowest yield among the top 25 producers: Even then, most of the yield is destroyed as a result of poor preservation and pitiable transportation to consumers.
Allah’s Messenger SAW said, “If any ruler having the authority to rule Muslim subjects dies while he is deceiving them, Allah will forbid Paradise for him.” Leadership is a great quality and every great nation’s success besides other factors owes its credit to the leader who led it to glory. Every human endeavor needs a unifying and driving force for success and that driving force is ultimately traced to good leadership.
Leadership is considered as a trust and a responsibility. A leader is required to meet his obligations to Allah, the Supreme Power as well as to discharge his duties towards His people or his followers to the best of his ability. It’s sad today that we cannot boast of a handful of leaders who meet the requirements of good leadership. Unfortunately for them: The Ruler who does not rule justly will be in chains on the Day of Judgement.
We have failed to emulate and learn from the ways of successful countries who have been able to cross the Rubicon from hunger and want, to overabundance and food sufficiency. Rather than embrace new ways of doing things especially in the field of agriculture, we are here resorting to the old Egyptian ‘shadoof’ system of irrigation. With abundant arable land mass and virgin forest, we have failed to make a sharp and decisive return to the land; even in the face of endangered petroleum resource which will soon become an obsolete source of fuel for future vehicles. We are paying only lip service to the idea of a return to the land. Yet, time is running against us. Fortunately, with some efforts, we can grow more food enough to feed ourselves with much left over for export. It demands will and determination. Very soon the oil which we all rely on and troop to Abuja every month to collect rent, will become a resource of the past as its use as a combustion agent will soon end. Cassava and yam do not grow overnight, neither does maize nor cocoyam. The time to embark on massive production is NOW!
We therefore come to the question; where do we go from here? Heaven helps only those who help themselves.