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Can forest insecurity encourage Osinbajo’s Chinese agro investors?

Addressing a delegation of Chinese agro investors and officials from the African Development Bank (AfDB), at the Presidential Villa earlier this week, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, disclosed that Nigeria is a place where there is tremendous opportunity.

He revealed to them that “We have the 9th largest arable land in the world and most of that is still largely untouched.

“We have a tremendous potential of being the food basket of the world but a lot of that will depend on how we are able to get high quality inputs, seedling and others, and how we are able to use technology especially the benefits of industrial agriculture to our advantage.

Giving further insights to boost the interest of the Chinese investors in the agro-allied sector, Osinbajo averred that “We believe very strongly that this partnership is the one that will deliver the kind of growth, the kind of quantum leap we are looking forward to. We think that with your partnership with us, especially the agro-allied aspect of it, if it works very well, we can achieve a lot.”

In essence, the high point of his remarks boils to the fact that Nigeria is on the way to becoming global food basket, but observed forest and farmland security crisis since 2016 which recently became deadly, according to analysts can derail the drive.

Experts argue that the federal government needs to show clearer commitment to develop a thriving agro-industrial sector, by first of all ridding the arable lands of terrorists.

Recall that during his visit to the Presidential Villa recently, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adewusi Adeyeye, decried the infiltration of South-West farmlands and forests by strangers.

Besides, there are reports that some local farmers in the region hardly go to their farms for fear of being either kidnapped, raped or killed by the ‘Strangers’.

Not up to one month ago in Oyo State, the son of the former Minister of Health, Dr Issac Adewale, was kidnapped within the premises of his father’s poultry farm just within the period a woman was said to be killed by Fulani herdsmen in Benin City which forced the youths to go on rampage.

Down southern Nigeria, there were unconfirmed reports that angry youths in a Cross River agrarian community had a serious fight that lead to the death of two herders even as over 20 cows were murdered during the confrontation.

In Enugu State and the Food Basket of the Nation, Benue, there had been recurring conflicts between landowner-farmers and nomadic Fulani herdsmen, but no concrete security action had been put in place by the Federal Government.

Buhari Yemi 66
President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in a laughing mood

However, only recently, the Government of Enugu State recruited and trained about 1,700 forest guards just to maintain security in farmlands in an economy that want to drive economic diversification with agriculture.

Some analysts are however convinced that the incoming Chinese agro investors may import security systems that will guarantee their safety in the forests after all.