There are lapses from govt in implementing agricultural policies —Adesola
Oyetunde Adesola, a general agricultural consultant is the Chief Executive Officer of Rainbow Agrotech. In this interview by YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE, he speaks on diverse issues that border on the agriculture business in Nigeria.
How has your foray into the agriculture sector been?
To be honest with you, it has not been a smooth ride. Inasmuch as I started with investing through my intellectual capital with zero naira and zero kobo, the first challenge was still how to raise capital for startup. A real entrepreneur will agree with me that to scale up production from preliminary stage, more capital is needed, so this was a challenge for me. Another challenge that I encountered was that often, many of my clients expected overnight miracles. Some clients would expect that after consulting us, their birds should just start laying eggs 100 per cent, even when it is obvious that they are not following professional advice from us, cutting corners, not feeding their birds with appropriate feeding formulas and not taking good care of the environment where these birds are being reared.
Agriculture seems to be the new gold in Nigeria, will you say government has done enough to attract youths to the sector?
I will like to say without being political that the Federal Government is trying to encourage the younger generation of farmers through many laudable programmes, the state government and the local governments should complement this effort by the central government. However, I must add that there are still many lapses on the part of government, especially on the implementation of some of these policies, I am of the opinion that the government should do more and approximate her theoretical policies into reality for farmers, especially younger generation it wishes to inspire to the sector.
In what areas would you like government to help farmers?
That is a good question. Let me tell you and I think I speak for many farmers in this regard, if government can make available accessible credit facilities that are not killing with high interest rates, provide highly subsidized farm machinery and equipment for farmers that are duty free, equip the agricultural research institutions across Nigeria with both sound human resources and huge capital resources, provide insurance coverage for farming activities and also tackle heads on the invasion of farmlands by herdsmen that have resulted in killings, maiming and destruction of crops, livestock and property. Believe me, many young people will be encouraged to take to farming and this will lead to sufficient food production in our country and prosperity for all.
If you were asked to evaluate the value chain in agriculture, what are the opportunities that you think are in this industry?
The opportunities are countless, believe me, you know agriculture is broad and so also is the plethora of opportunities that comes with this. For instance, let us look at cattle, the products you can deliver from it are more than twenty and in this are many other value chain players, like branding, packaging, processing, marketing, communications, retainership, dealership, brokers, exporters, importers, just to mention but a few. For anyone who is serious, agriculture is the new oil and you do not necessarily need to be a farmer before you can play. There are business opportunities in the value chains that different people can venture and make fortunes even more than we farmers, I tell you.
Has closure of land borders helped local food production and farming in general?
Yes, anyone that can think deeply will know that it is an opportunity to tap into goldmine called agriculture. During the border closure our company has been able to scale up our irrigation farming, presently we have cultivated about 30 acres of land for irrigation purpose with different plants like vegetables, maize, sugarcane (which we intend to make 100 acres before the year runs out). The policy also has had positive implication on poultry farming with many farmers not being able to meet demand curve line and this has made many to invest more. The policy is an eye-opener really that if we are serious as a nation, we can produce what we consume. Take for instance how rice farming in Nigeria has increased astronomically due to the closure of the land borders. It has really helped in many ways; not only in food production, but it has positive implication on our health as a nation. Most of the frozen chickens hitherto being imported into Nigeria, no one can correctly say that they were healthy for consumption.
What is your advice for young entrepreneurs, especially farmers in Nigeria?
My simple advice is, be passionate about your venture, be ready to take risks; it is inevitable, challenge yourself, believe in yourself, have a clear vision, be proactive and manage your time and resources very well.
Yours is an agrotech consultancy firm, what exactly do you do?
Rainbow Agrotech is an agro base company that deals in livestock production, processing of livestock products (catfish, beef, and chicken, etc.), irrigation farming, agricultural consultancy etc. What this simply means is that my organization operates within the agricultural sector of our economy, we ensure that our country is food sufficient and tackle the challenges of food insecurity in Nigeria. We are based in the South West in Nigeria, to be particular, we have our farms spread across three places in Oyo State. Our organization has its presence in Okeho, Oyo town and Ilero precisely. Currently, we are on a feed mill that will be producing floating feed for fish, first of its kind on the Oke Ogun axis of Oyo State.
What inspired you to go into agriculture?
Besides that I studied agriculture at the university, agriculture is actually in my blood, my father is an agricultural expert, who by the grace of God reached his peak in his chosen career before he retired years back. While I was also in the secondary school, agricultural science was one of my best subjects that it would take a lot of sleepless nights for any of my mates to beat me to it. So, you can see that it is only natural that in reality, I am a farmer, a born farmer I will say without exaggerating.