Why is the North this Productive and yet this Poor?
Why is North so productive and yet so poor?
Each time I travel across Northern states, all I see along the road is wealth, wealth, and more wealth.
From Kano to Katsnia to Zamfara and beyond. The sight of endless farmlands on both sides of the road is just amazing.
Despite this level of agricultural productivity, there still seem to be a high level of poverty in the North. This is what confuses me. The world can live without crude oil but cannot live without food. The people in food business are suppose to be more comfortable and self-sustaining than the oil-business people. Yet in Nigeria, it is the reverse.
According to CBN statistics, Nigeria spends N1Billion daily importing rice alone. That is N365Billion annually for rice only. The North is now positioned to have a majority share in this business. If you add all the agricultural produce of the North and check the statistics and the cash flow, you will see that the North has no relationship with poverty. Another statistic shows that Nigeria spends N24Trillion annually on food consumption. If the North dominates the agriculture sector, then they have no relationship with poverty.
There is a disconnect between the level of agricultural productivity in the North and the level of poverty in the land. I am confused.
It is either the North is selling its farm produce cheaply to the rest of the country, or the capitalist middle men are shortchanging the farmers or something else is wrong that I cannot figure out.
I am sure if the the Federal government stops breastfeeding the North with free oil money, the Northern state governments will find this disconnect and connect it. The North has vast expanse of land as its natural comparative advantage in Nigeria. It needs to optimize this advantage and stop portraying itself as a region that cannot survive without the South. A people and region so productive with their land has no relationship with poverty. Something is obviously wrong and I am sure True Federalism will fix that disconnect.
How can a tomato farmer sell his labor (a basket of tomato) for N5,000 in Kano, a middle man buys it from him there and resell it in Lagos for N18,000! Why should the middle men be making more money than the farmers? These are issues the government at that level need to look at.
The North needs to support the Restructure Nigeria campaign and prove to the rest of the country that it can survive without been breast fed with free oil money from the South.
Even if it means that the North will need to create an artificial price increase on their produce through indirect taxation, they should do it. A people cannot be so productive and yet so poor. Something is wrong somewhere.