BY SUNNY CHUBA NWACHUKWU
Sunny Nwachukwu (Loyal Sigmite), PhD, a pure and applied chemist with an MBA in management, is an Onitsha based industrialist, a fellow of ICCON, and vice president, finance, Onitsha Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached on +234 803 318 2105 (text only) or email@example.com
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Agriculture practice is an ancient occupational trade. Dating back to the mediaeval age, which records the beginning of subsistence farming that kept families going, it ensures the provision of the major basic need of man for the sustenance of life, which is ‘food security’. This is because, “food must be put on the table” if life must go on.
In today’s world, the contemporary agribusiness of the Fourth Industrial Revolution demands the Hi-Tech support services that would drive the required volumes of operations along the entire agricultural value chains, needed globally to sustain food demand and supply in global economic and commercial activities, on a daily basis. This human efforts to engage in a vocation that supports the sustainability of human existence and improvement in all ancillary services that relate to all manners of farming, through which agribusiness can be actualized for global economic growth, is always given attention by multilateral organisations (the World Trade Organisation, Agriculture Development Banks in all the continents), for the simple reason that food security is an essential service for human existence and global economic development.
Food security, essentially, is very vital to sustainable living standards in a society. Without food, a productive and healthy life will definitely be very difficult to maintain. It actually demands the physical provision, and its economic access, to sufficiently meet the needed dietary requirements for the maintenance of life, at all times. Otherwise, hunger, due to poverty or other related economic factors, such as a near-zero disposable income by families, sets in. This could eventually result in malnourishment and, possibly, lead to physical death. It is a deadly weapon used in times of war by nations as a strategy, executed in the form of an “economic blockade”, by making sure that food is completely cut off from the reach of enemies. This keeps the enemies hungry and weak and, invariably, prevents them from winning the battle as they lack strength and vitality to sustain military endurance in the fight.
An economy could be described as not secure if it lacks sufficient food availability to feed and sustain the society or her citizens. This could have been as a result of many factors caused by famine, hunger, insufficient provision of raw materials, or poor harvests in agricultural produce by farmers. Presently, there is an obvious outcry by nations in many continents over an imminent food price increase, globally due to the ongoing Ukrainian invasion by Russia. This is because Ukraine is the world’s largest producer and supplier of wheat. Wheat, an agricultural produce, is a major raw material for baking (bread and other bakery products/foods), and it is also known that most countries that rely on sourcing wheat from Ukraine, essentially have bread as their staple food.
The global economy cannot afford to toy with agriculture being a very important economic enabler, nor can it afford to neglect constant infrastructural development within any economy for improved agribusiness, being a major and very strategic economic pillar for sustaining growth and development in the given economy. It is therefore very important that the government pays the much needed attention to this sector, because it is a prerequisite to life’s sustainability.
In Nigeria, there is now hope rising because the agricultural sector is beginning to receive a boost through the new Dangote Fertiliser Plant in Lagos commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, the 22nd of March 2022. This is a “one in a million” facility established at the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, and occupying 500 hectares of land. The fertiliser complex is to produce three million metric tonnes of urea fertiliser annually under its phase one. It is Africa’s largest granulated urea fertiliser complex. This complex will, for sure, reposition the nation’s economic policy on ‘import substitution’ for the agric sector, through the agribusiness support services it offers, and provides assurance of adequate food security within the economy. The nation’s estimated annual need is five to seven million metric tonnes of fertiliser, but it is currently consuming 1.5 million MTs.
For the nation’s economy, on job creation, it will generate 500 permanent jobs, and, also, provide about 5,000 job opportunities (both direct and indirect) with an extra 5,000 jobs for the community. The financial attractiveness for the economy is that the nation will retain $125 million in import substitution; and also, provide $625 million from export sales of the products. This singular support service rendered by the Dangote Fertiliser Plant is worthy of commendation and emulation by many other indigenous investors, in other economic sectors within the country.
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