Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has identified lack of continuity of agricultural policies and programmes by successive governments as responsible for food insecurity in Africa.
Speaking at a regional forum on, ‘Best practices in fostering food security in Africa,’ in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Obasanjo said most of the programmes he initiated to develop the nation’s agricultural sector were abandoned after his exit from power.
At the forum organised by the Centre for Human Security, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, a renowned geographer, Professor Akin Mabogunje, also decried the $26bn spent by Africa on food importation in 2010.
Mabogunje noted that despite its huge population and potential, Africa had not been able to develop viable agricultural practices, thus compounding the issue of human security on the continent.
In his remarks, Obasanjo said the bane of food security in Africa was the failure of successive administrations to sustain good policies and programmes of their predecessors.
The former president, who said he did not believe Africa was jinxed, expressed optimism that the continent would overcome food insecurity once leaders demonstrate political will and eliminate corruption in governance.
According to the ex-president, his administration was able to move cocoa production from 150,000 metric tonnes to over 400,000 metric tonnes within five years while cassava production was moved from 30 million to 60 million metric tonnes.
He said, “Each time I have been head of government, either as military head of government or as elected president of this country, the progress we have made in agriculture and food security has been because I personally sat on the driver’s seat.
“I remember when I was military head of state, we had something called ‘Operation Feed the Nation’ to move agriculture and food production forward and we made progress. We were self-sufficient in poultry, rice production, vegetable oil and so on. But when we left government and our successor came, they set up a presidential task force for importation of rice; not for production of rice.”
Obasanjo pointed out that rather than promote food security, certain officials of the government embarked on corrupt practices to undermine the nation’s agricultural sector.
“That is the way we harm ourselves. We need to find a better way not to harm ourselves and a way that we will consistently, continually and indeed continuously maintain food security in Africa,” he added.
The former president urged the Federal Government, private sector and farmers to collaborate and work out modalities to salvage the country from imminent food crisis.

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