Experts advise Nigerians to exploit Agriculture



FILE PHOTO: Rice farm in Nigeria.

Agricultural experts in Abuja on Friday advised farmers and Nigerians to exploit business and job opportunities in the agricultural value chain to achieve paradigm shift in the sector.

They gave the advice at the ‘‘Abuja Agric-business Entrepreneurship Summit 2017, ‘’organised by Freshvine Environment Limited in collaboration with Zero Hunger Nigeria, an NGO.

Speaking at the event, Mr Temitope Runsewe, the convener of the event, explained that the aim of the summit was to change the idea of the farmers from being subsistence farmers to commercial farmers.

‘‘The summit is put together by the experts in agriculture sector in response to the dire need that we have in the country for people who will change the paradigm in the sector.

‘‘The initiative will give people the understanding of the opportunities that is available in Nigeria’s agricultural value change.

‘‘Nigeria is generally regarded to as the giant of Africa due to its natural resources and also known to have the most fertile soil in the continent.

‘‘But our agricultural produce is not well pronounced because most of our able farmers are still producing for home consumption only.’’

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the event is: ‘‘Taking Advantage of Business Opportunity in Nigeria’s Agricultural Value Chain.’’

Runsewe said one of the major objectives of the summit was to bring experts, government agencies and other Non-Governmental Organisations together, to brainstorm and share experiences with farmers in the sector.

‘‘What we want to do with this summit is beginning to change the standard, to make people, especially the local farmers to begin to see that they can maximise the efforts they put in agriculture.

‘‘We want to create an opportunity to enhance local farmers’ knowledge that they can combine farming with business by maximising their productivity in the sector and this will also support the nation’s economy,“ he said.

In his presentation titled: ‘‘Food and Cash Crop Production,’’ Mr Tunde Arosanyin, Chief Executive Officer, said Nigeria was blessed with good soil to be among the leading food crop producers in the world.

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According to Arosanyin, it is on record that Nigeria is the largest cassava producer in the world followed by Brazil.

He expressed regret that Brazil, through its value chain in cassava, is making more profit than Nigeria.

The reason, he said that Nigerian farmers and the Federal Government need to move from production of raw cassava to other cassava value chain.

‘‘On record, we are the world largest producer of cassava followed by Brazil, one of the fascinating things is that Nigeria generates less than 10 million dollars annually from cassava.

“But Brazil that produces cassava less than what Nigeria produces, generates over 5.2 billion dollars annually from the same cassava due to its value chain exploitation,’’ he said.

He advised Nigerians to venture into other value chain in the commodity such as starch for industrial use; leaves for animal feeds and drugs also, for confectionary among others.

The Minister of state for Agriculture and Rural Development, Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, said that the summit was timely as the country was using agriculture to diversify the economy.

Represented by Mrs Karim Babangida, Director of Gender and Youth Development at the ministry, the minister said his ministry was working with the Bank of Agriculture to ensure that youths have access to credit facilities without ‎any stress.

‘‘Agriculture is a business you can do regardless of what you do at the moment because it will help to multiply your income and at the same time eliminate poverty.

‘‘You can be working as a civil servant and ‎still go into farming because it is not against the civil service rules.

‘‘The ministry has organised training for pre-retirees‎ by teaching them on how to go into farming after retirement and we give them starter package to help them start with,’’ he said.

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