With the international price of crude oil on the decline, the fortunes of Nigeria’s mono-product economy is also fast depleting.
It is against this background that there have been renewed calls for Nigerians to invest in agriculture.
Investing in agriculture seems more like a strategic move; after all, whether the overall economy is in recession or booming, people still have to eat. This is perhaps why many investors regard agriculture as an investment that is recession-proof,
With the world’s population increasing in geometric proportion, farming would play an increasingly important role in sustaining global societies.
Agriculture is the bedrock of any society which is why we first have to be self sufficient in this sector before going into exportation. We actually have the potential to not only feed ourselves but also be a net exporter of food and cash crops as obtained during the good old-days of groundnut pyramids, cocoa, palm Oil, cotton and many other crops.
Agriculture is a great source of raw materials and this is why hitherto third world countries like China and Brazil have been able to deploy it in their quest to develop their countries and transform their economies.
Why can’t we develop our local industries through agriculture and become a net exporter of agricultural produce as well as its by-products? Currently, Nigeria possesses 19 agricultural research institutes and 24 agricultural colleges, all churning out various research works. Unfortunately, the lack of investment and machinery has been the bane of our agriculture sector.
The medium/large scale farmers make up less than 30% of Nigerian farmers. Yet, they face the risk of losing their investments to harsh government policy, insecurity, shylock-capitalists who over-dominate the market, trying to manipulate and monopolize the system as well as poor farming techniques and equipment.
Some of these farmers know what equipment to purchase but lack the purchasing power. While others actually have the purchasing Power but lack the know-how. Consequently, we have to first streamline our farming methods to the most efficient farming system, then get the right farming equipment to enable us go into semi-mechanised farming.
On the other hand with our growing youth population, Nigeria is not in short supply of labour; the only problem is convincing these teaming youths to embrace agriculture by giving them incentives.
How do we get more investment into agriculture? The answer is… from you and I.
Government has to prove to us that if we #InvestInAgriculture, she would help us indirectly manage our investments by assuring us of security and extending other incentives to us.
We need to develop a strategy to make agriculture commercial – We need to take agriculture to the market place, both domestic and international.
Agriculture must be seen, defined and pursued as a real business. We have to develop the tripod of production, storage and processing.
Babangida Ruma, is a Commonwealth Youth Council Peace Ambassador