• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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BusinessDay

‘We plan to help farmers increase yields’

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History

Dizengoff was established in Nigeria 1958, as part of Balton CP Limited, a UK registered multinational conglomerate operating across sub-Saharan Africa. One part of the company is agricultural, with focus on integrated solutions, mechanisation, tractors implementations, agro-chemical, irrigation products, green housing. The aim is to help farmers become sustainable.

How much has been invested in Nigeria

When we started we had an investment plan in excess of $2 million. I can’t quote AGCO specifically because I know that countries come with their individual businesses, but I know that AGCO put aside $80 million investment in sub-Saharan Africa, which I know that Nigeria is number one priority. We hope that the first lap of investment would expand the number and quality of agric service centres, and this is in line with the Federal Government policy of having more farm mechanisation centres. The second stage, we hope and strive to bring the presence of AGCO here, because we hope that one day we will be assembling tractors in Nigeria. I know that it will be a long journey but that can happen, we have to a critical mathematics on the number of tractors the market will absorb.

Nigeria’s agric sector

It is an incredibly important sector, and Nigeria needs to be serious with it. I think the Federal Government is correct, government needs to be focused on assisting in building infrastructure to help the private sector build a successful agricultural sector. One of the frustrations of government is having its plans and initiatives for farmers being abused by speculators and all kinds of dubious characters. The government has to provide loans at low interest rate for farmers, so that they can invest in lands, crops and equipment. With bureaucracy involved, it becomes more cumbersome and the scheme is to reach more farmers. Putting the right scheme in place without getting it abused is a very difficult challenge for the government. The world is running out of arable lands and water to produce sufficient food, but Nigeria has sufficient arable lands, labour and water to produce food. So, there is huge opportunity in Nigeria.

Partnering government

The federal and state governments are our customers as well as the private sector. Getting government hands off agriculture is definitely the correct thing. There is no business that government places its hand that does work; the same thing that happens in agriculture happens in power.

Effect of government policies

Government policies affect every business, business man, industrialists and so on. The government needs to do something about the cost of money in this country. You cannot build an economy based on the private sector with 25 percent interest rate on loans. We have 4 million graduates a year who go into the marketplace but cannot find jobs, that is 40 million graduates in 10 years. There must be a way to make people self-employed.

Industrialisation rebirth in agric sector in realising Vision 20:2020

The country must improve on power supply. The government has to continue providing local content initiatives. They have to put in place the infrastructure, protect the investors, consumers, employees and employer. All these need to be put in place; there is a lot of work to be done. The fundamental responsibility of the government is to put in place the enabling environment such as financial, legal, institutions, physical infrastructure.

 

Hope Moses-Ashike.