- An urban farming policy should be adopted into the urban development policy. The National Urban Development Policy (2012) is the main urban policy framework in place in Nigeria now, this needs to be modified to accommodate the change. While making provisions for green spaces and reserves, it could be amended to consider urban food security. Urban farming policies have been adopted by several developing countries to ensure food security, feed citizens, and fight chronic hunger. Examples include the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte – the city that ended hunger– and the African cities of Kampala Uganda, and Dar es Salaam Tanzania, which have integrated urban farming into their planning strategies to increase food security.
- The use of “estate farms” where residents of estates can grow their fresh produce for communal consumption, is a practical example of how this can be applied in the Nigerian context, and will help ‘to foster sustainable economic growth, promotes efficient urban and regional planning and development, as well as ensure improved standard of healthy living and well-being of all Nigerians’ as contained in the National Urban Development Policy, 2012.
- Include urban farming techniques in enterprise training. This can be done through the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), with practical apprenticing at current urban farms.
- Graduates can be incentivized by agricultural credit schemes such as the Agric, Small, and Medium Enterprise Scheme (AGSMEIS). This will ensure the development of relevant skills to service urban farming enterprises.
- Mixed vertical farming systems such as hydroponics and aquaponics operating in tandem have great potential in the Nigerian context, as they ensure maximum use of resources. ‘Fresh Direct’ an Abuja based company has successfully shown the market potential of using mixed urban farming techniques. With its application of hydroponics, aquaponics, and poultry farming in a single location, using containers to maximize land use, and achieve substantial commercial output to meet the demand for fresh, organic food in the city.
- Adopt Agro-Parks for commodities that are produced with raw materials concentrated in a particular region (e.g., Ginger in Kaduna, and Vegetables in Plateau state) with various actors across the value chain in proximity. This will significantly increase the quality and quantity of outputs and reduce the cost of production and transportation with accompanying risk.
- Subsidize the cost of solar panels and batteries for agricultural purposes to negate the effects of lack of power for urban farming, which is highly dependent on constant energy supply. Asset-based credit can be used to negate the cost of solar equipment.
- Restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality-based enterprises should be encouraged to only use vegetables sourced from urban farms or produced by such establishments.
The covid-19 pandemic can be a blessing or curse, largely dependent on how the introduced changes are used and navigated. Nigeria can be a part of the ongoing fourth industrial revolution and the pandemic has given her a chance to. The agricultural sector of the nation can either thrive or die, it is entirely up to us.