• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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BusinessDay

Embrace farming to bolster economy, Nigerian youths urged

Ondo begins 2024 planting season as farmers receive farm inputs

Nigerian youths have been encouraged to embrace farming so as to bolster the economy, create jobs, earn income for themselves and discourage the ‘japa’ syndrome.

Adeyemi Adeniji, the managing director/CEO, Starling Global and Ideal Limited, gave the advised at the commissioning of the company’s multi- million naira warehouse complex for cocoa, in Ikom, Cross River State.

Adeniji said it was to the disadvantage of Nigeria’s economy that farmers engaged in agriculture were over 40 years of age, a situation he said, calls for the need to explore every opportunity to make agriculture more viable and attractive to the youths.

“We have our problem now with differences in economic policies and JAPA syndrome. The renewed hope, according to what the president said, is for us to explore and exploit all the opportunities around us , in order to become a great nation.

“We are tired of being told we have the potential to become a great nation, we need to change that to become a very great nation. Farmers are the richest people in other countries like the United States. We need to create private companies to be intentional in developing this particular space.

“When you are looking at the industrial revolution, you need raw materials. Where will the raw materials come from? Is it when you have the average age of farmers now 40 years and above?
“There is, therefore, need to start giving the younger ones the hope that they can do it and get there because their involvement in agriculture is key,” said Adeniji.

Also to encourage the involvement of youths in agriculture, Adeniji said that the commissioned warehouse was a 2,000 metric tonnes project expected to house agro products from the central part of the state and prepare them for export.
He also revealed that the company had “82 hectares of cocoa plantation, adding that “I am planting another 10 hectares in Osun State and 82 in Edo State. We want to encourage young people to come in.

“We have about 62 percent of arable land that has not been touched in Nigeria, the farmers /herder’s crisis can be solved if the government can be intentional about it.
“We have the population, we need to do something to boost the economy of this country and develop the taste of what we produce.

“That is why we acquired the largest cocoa producing factory in Lagos. We have started partnering with Ogun state and AfrExImbank to establish the largest cashew processing factory”, he added.

He further revealed the company’s plans to bring a smaller vessel that would export the agro products from Calabar to Douala and Yaounde, in Cameroon.

“That is our objective, we cannot be waiting for the government all the time. From the Ikom axis, we have indigenous persons on our employment roll and we intend to bring in more”, he stated.

Glory Odu-Oji, the representative of the director of administration, ministry of commerce, Cross River State, on her part, said the government was satisfied at Starkink’s situation at the warehouse in Ikom.

“You are not only going to be exporting cocoa, but we look forward to a time when you will be carrying cocoa beans out of Ikom. We are also happy that you want to give back to the community you are benefiting from and your action today shows that you are not just paying lip service but mean business. The state governor is not relenting in his efforts at ensuring the state hits the ground running particularly in the area of exports”.

Also, Ezra Yakusak, executive director/CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), said the country needed to evolve more foreign exports as a means of survival, noting that being a beneficiary of the Federal Government’s export grant, the company had manifested the essence of the grant.

Achu Bisong, chairman, Association of Cocoa farmers, Cross River State, said the commissioning “goes to assure youths, especially graduates from this part of the world that there is dignity in farming.”