For the nation to experience self sustenance and witness food security in face of the global economy, an Agric expert has called for a revolution in the Agric sector, a re-thinking in how the country plans its policy especially in the Agrarian industry.
With a great potential untapped in the sector in terms of arable land and business opportunities across the value chain, Mrs Ogo Ibok, CEO of SENCE Agric has called for a radical outlook in support of sector and stakeholders in order for us to realize our great potential. Speaking in an Agric Business Clinic recently in Lagos, Mrs Obok said that there was a renewed interest in Agriculture and lots of hope but the government, agencies and banks should help to make the sector strong as a lot of employment opportunities avail in the sector.
She added that 0.3% of farmers in Nigeria own most of the land which is over 10 hectares and the rest of farmers only do subsistence. “With the large population of youths in Nigeria, our government should help make agriculture lucrative and not just a dirty work viewed in times past. 17.625 trillion naira which is 21.97% of our national income can be generated from the sector if many loose ends are tackled. The farmers we have are ageing and there is no replacement for them because no one wants to go through the arduous process again but there are opportunities for mechanized farming being overlooked. Look at the major checkpoints (about 35 of them) faced by tomato farmers in bringing their produce from the North down to the south. More than fifty percent get spolit for lack of proper transportation facility and storage facility.
“Pineapples which grow in the South-south do not have the required storage system to make them durable until the buyer comes. Strawberries are grown in Jos but there is no proper frame work to harness these produce that the westerners are looking for. The agro-chemical potential for crop protection products has the ability to grow at 9% per annul at $250 million in Nigeria. There is no production presently in the agro-chemical sub sector because we import all we need to protect our seeds and produce. We need a wholistic change across the value chain- the production, process and marketing of farm produce,” says Ibok.
Mr Ken Osanebi, Head of Agric, Heritage bank stated at the clinic that farmers needed financial education as this has hampered them from accessing loans from banks. He added that most banks don’t want to deal with farmers because they don’t keep records and if records are not kept, the banks cannot monitor their progress.