Farmers in Nigeria have been urged to grow crops and other produce based on guided industrial demands to reduce gluts, marketing challenges, gross importation and capital flight, as well as to build resilient agriculture.
Nigeria is deficient in production of most crops, and manufacturers do capitailise on this to import virtually all industrial crop.
This has discouraged most farmers, and puts the country in a difficult agro-economic position causing too much pressure on the exchange rate and fueling inflation, unemployment and rising poverty level amid industrial failure.
Dayo Olunowo, managing director, Agri Capital Limited expressed that his organisation is ready to help farmers to overcome the challenge, which, in turn, would enrich them in the 2021 farm season.
Speaking at the company’s launch of its 2021 farm season programme tagged, ‘ISP 2021,’ he mentioned that the focus of Agri Capital was in three dimensions.
The first, he said, is import substitution – which ensures that Nigerian farmers cultivate the crops that dominate Nigeria export, and these include spices like thyme, turmeric, coriander and white onions.
The second aspect is closing the gap between farmers and multinationals through training of farmers in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to meet the produce standards of such organisations.
“As a qualified professional that understands the standard procedures, we will ensure that farmers are empowered to operate and adhere to the standards,” said Olunowo, who is a farm assurer with Global Gap.
Agri Capital, he added, is already working with FA-10 Group and some state governments to interpret the Global Gap Operational Procedure documents into three Nigerian languages.
Asked on what crops the multinationals were requesting from farmers, he explained that Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP), cassava, thyme, turmeric, garlic, ginger, and vegetables, among others, were in demand.
According to the Food and Agriculture Services (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture, Nigeria is deficient in maize, rice, wheat and oil palm production, among others.
However, there are areas of strength, such as cocoa, cashew, ginger, turmeric, garlic, cassava, yam and beans, moringa seeds and leaves, among others, which the country produces in excess.
Manufacturers spend billions of dollars yearly importing agricultural commodities that Nigeria can cultivate, ranging from oil palm to beverages.
Experts say jobs and incomes are being exported when Nigeria imports those agro commodities, and cost of production is escalated in the process.
Smallholder farmers in Africa most populous country have failed to explore available opportunities from several multinationals companies, which rely solely on imports inputs.
Meanwhile, Dr. Akin Oloniruha, former provost of the Federal College of Agriculture, Kabba, an affiliate of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, corroborated the position of Olunowo, saying benefits of producing for exports and industrial import substitution include job opportunities for farmers, aggregators, investors, youths and exporters.
Producing for specific purposes also guarantees steady market and stable prices on which farmers and investors could make expansion and business projections he said.
Professor Lateef Sanni, a root and tuber crop specialist in IITA, said deepening industrialisation of any produce in Nigeria has multiplier positive effects on gross domestic product (GDP), poverty alleviation, wealth generation and employment opportunities for youths.