A professor of Land Economics at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Ezekiel Idowu, has said the nation’s land, which can be used for agricultural purposes, is a viable alternative to crude oil.
Idowu said this while delivering the 279th inaugural lecture, titled, ‘Land and Power: Prosperity or Poverty’ at the OAU, Ile-Ife in Osun State on Tuesday.
The don said Nigeria has a very large area where agriculture ought to be practised, saying the nation ought to be producing the food which its citizens consumed and should also be exporting to other countries.
He said, “Given the level of resources and the power structure, no Nigerian should go to bed on an empty stomach. The reverse is however the case.
“Agriculture, which should be the mainstay of the economy, has been relegated to the background and poverty is everywhere, both in the rural and urban areas.
“Nigerian agricultural land, estimated at approximately 92.4 million hectares (consisting of both cultivable and potentially cultivable areas), provides a better alternative to petroleum.
“The lands should be well harnessed to usher in an agricultural revolution that will produce the foods and fibers needed for our domestic use and export. Nigeria needs to transform its agriculture from subsistence to commercial.”
Idowu stated that the disposition of the small holder farmers by the land speculators and persistent rural land disputes must be stopped, or at least, curtailed to encourage investment in agriculture.
The professor stated that individuals and corporate bodies involved in agriculture should be allowed to have titles to land to increase their output.
This, Idowu said, would encourage many people to invest in agriculture, thereby assisting in job production and food sufficiency.
“Individuals, groups and state must use their powers in ensuring efficient utilisation of the country’s land resources and thereby engender the prosperity of our dear country.
“If the government is too conservative to undertake this comprehensive reform, then individuals, families, cooperatives and corporate bodies involved in agricultural production should be given titles to land and thereby pool other agricultural resources to increase output.
“All these have been suggested to the ongoing Presidential Committee on Land Reform,” he added.