The issue of data collection and processing in Nigeria has always been a serious challenge due to scattered sources of information from various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of Federal and State governments specially on food and agriculture in the country.
Food and agricultural produce are essential tools to both human and nation’s economic development which is evident in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria where agriculture is contributing about 43%.
May be GDP contribution would have been improved if there had been sound statistical information for national planning through a uniform platform that will be collating and harmonizing this data in order to generate more revenue through accurate planning.
It is on record that the antecedent of data in Nigeria is at zero level and that is why most at times all the reference sources given on agricultural produce are the ones from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations because of its more reliability and world standard scientific process it has undergone in the hands of experts.
Let it be pointed here that some of these experts used by the FAO to gathered this data are Nigerians and this shows that the country has the wherewithal to have a well sustainable data based information on food and agricultural produce in her effort to fight poverty and hunger through the food security programme and also to achieve the vision 20:2010 development goal.
Well it is a good news that Nigeria has also joined the other 17 countries of the Sub_Saharan Africa that have already started implementing the National country STAT initiated by FAO through financial support from Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation of United State of America, this may not be enough except it is well.
In the first instance at 50 years of independence why should Nigeria wait this long to have uniform platform that will process and harmonizes food and agricultural matters, a very sensitive sector of the economy. A sector that has effectively driven the economy in the 60s in all the three regions with the western states using produce from cocoa to offer free education and health to the people then.
The cocoa of the west, the groundnut/cotton pyramid of the north and palm oil of the east are three major cash crops that gave economic development to Nigeria before the arrival of crude oil. Let us also point here that what Malaysia is making in palm oil export that she came here to take in the 60s is much more than all the noise in the oil revenue generation if our dear country Nigeria can get her priority right in area of good planning for agricultural development which sound data is one of the keys.
It is appalling that since all these years, Nigeria did not deemed if fit to conduct census for all produces on food and agricultural talk less of having a sound data base that will be sustained. All these are among the thought of stakeholders at the country STAT launch in Abuja where they expressed scepticision about government sustaining the project after FAO might have removed its financial support.
Though the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Prof. Sheikh Ahmed Abdullahi argued favourably on the need for reliable data base for efficient planning but he seems elusive in the area of sustainability and agricultural census which the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) believes is part of key ingredients to sound data.
Mr. George Oparaku, a deputy director and the head of Agriculture and Business Enterprise NBS advised that all effort should be channeled towards sustainability and argued that a base_line data would be effective through agricultural produce’s census adding that countrySTAT is a function of data produced through survey or administrative statistics which may not be broadened enough.