Before the attainment of political independence by some African countries, we saw a continent richly blesses and consequently with a bumper harvest annually.

But what happened immediately after the independence of most African countries can better be told by historians. The continent finds herself subsumed in the world of politics of hunger. Those who were told by the colonial masters to keep fit have now discovered to their dismay that they are starving to death. And this is not as a result of the policy to keep fit but because the food is just not there. But why the sudden change of events? Several reasons have been advanced for this.

These include the sudden switch from self-sufficiency in food production to other foreign exchange earners, inability to take control of the productive land; desertification of most arable lands as a result of deforestation and excessive grazing of the land. It is evident that Africans are their own enemies.

The case of Nigeria is an interesting one. Before the discovery of petroleum, there used to be pyramids of groundnuts and cotton from the North which were foreign exchange earners, there were thousands and thousands of metric tons of cocoa from the South-West which made the country one of the world’s leading exporters of cocoa, there was rubber, palm oil and coal from the East which commanded high foreign exchange.

Then, most Nigerians could keep dogs since these would feed, not from the crumbs, but from excess food produced, since it was an agrarian society.

Quite unfortunately with the discovery of petroleum, the ‘black gold’ which brought in unprecedented foreign exchange, attention shifted from agricultural products to the new-found source of wealth. And so it happened that agricultural products became a story – ‘once upon a time there used to be pyramids of groundnuts…..’

It also amazes one to discover that Nigeria, formerly an exporter of palm oil, is now an importer of the product. Nigeria even imports ‘garri’ that used to be exclusive preserve of the poor. Do you know that most of the foreign exchange earned from petroleum is now spent on importation of food items?

Not considering the so-called importation of food items that can only feed an insignificant percentage of people, Nigerians are going hungry in spite of the rich soil, the arable land and the favourable weather that the good Lord has endowed them with.

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