On how to make Agriculture a State’s Economic Mainstay —By Simon Utsu

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Simon Utsu|6 June 2017 
Yesterday, I made a post about farming viz how Nigeria can copy the Netherlands’ model so it becomes a mainstay of her economy. A friend said I should stop blaming government on Facebook for every problem and challenged me and as many others to go back to the village and start farming. 
Well, for starters, such farming were few individuals return back to the rural areas isn’t what I’m talking about —because on the average, people will end up only producing enough to sustain their immediate families. Secondly, I’ll continue to blame the government as much as is necessary —because it’s a government sustained farming scheme that can actually take Nigeria to Netherlands’ level where we would become self-sufficient and even start exporting agricultural produces. 
Most governments (state and federal) have failed in this regard because they lack policy direction. Donald Duke tried a lot in this regard —though he was naive and hence failed because it was from an experimental standpoint. His pineapple and castor oil initiatives failed because the Cross River land and climate wasn’t right for those cash crops to thrive or so I heard. I felt he should have stuck to the dozens of other crops that thrive in my state’s rich soil and brought in experts and partners to give such a policy life and direction. 
The current Lagos state government is one that has policy direction. For example, last year, Ambode collaborated with his Kebbi state partner (who most likely lacks direction) to do a massive rice project which was named LAKE rice. Ambode’s Lagos came to the table with the idea and finance whilst Bagudu’s Kebbi had the land and man power.
Goodluck Jonathan’s administration also had ‎a similar Agriculture industry policy direction but the usual discontinuation of policy by successive administration(s) killed the momentum amassed by Akinwumi Adeshina. 
In Malaysia, I learnt entire states are dedicated to Agriculture. Hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of square kilometres of land are dedicated entirely to farming. ‎
If I’m governor of a state like Cross River, I’ll simply hit the ground running in the agricultural sector with the template I’ve highlighted on above. I’ll have a 15 year plan and I’ll establish an agriculture trust fund that would be capable of funding the running/maintenance of the initiative 10 years after I’m done with my tenure. 
The trust fund will have a board which a morally upright and well known person (say top clergy) from the private sector will chair. It’s board will be made up of technocrats (in the Agric sector) and say three top Agric ministry officials. I’ll also send a bill in this regard to the state assembly so the board could be recognised by law and put clauses that’ll make it very difficult for subsequent governments to dissolve so as to prevent the ugly trend which I talked about above. This way, after say ten years of hardwork based on the blueprint, it’ll become one of the mainstays of the state’s economy and be very difficult (impossible) for subsequent governments no matter how clueless or vindictive not to latch onto that sector just like it has become almost impossible for successive governments in Cross River not to focus on tourism which was Donald Duke’s brainchild. 
I strongly feel governance is very easy. Once you have a passion for‎ the people, bring the right people on board and have/develop a strategy to drive them, you’ll achieve good results most times than not.

Simon Utsu 
Is a Social Commentator