* As Obaseki pushes for agric-focused culture
About N12 billion worth of agricultural produce in Nigeria perishes annually from the point of harvest to point of delivery at the markets, due to lack of storage facilities, experts and investors have said.
This is as Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo State, called on Nigerians to imbibe an agriculture-focused culture, as they were before the discovery of oil in the country.
At an agribusiness food and security summit themed: “Fixing the Broken Linkages between Farm and Market, organised by Businessday Newspaper yesterday in Lagos, agricultural experts and investors bemoaned the poor food security in Nigerian, calling on the federal government to activate investments in agricultural produce storage to save farmers N12 billion being lost to wastage, as well as ensure availability of produce round the season.
Experts and investors who spoke at the event were Jamie Rixton, chief agronomist, Ellah Lakes Plc, Mr Ayodeji Balogun, country manager, AFEX Commodities Exchange, Rotimi Fashola, team head, Project, Elephant Group and Daniel Manzo Maigari, CEO Agrolog Innovative Agriculture Limited, among others.
Obaseki said, Nigeria’s agriculture sector would continue to have setbacks if the government do not find lasting solution to the scourge in the sector. To fix this, “the first thing we must do is to begin to think on how we can inculcate the culture of agriculture in us,” said Obaseki.
“Although, before the advent of crude oil, we have a strong culture for agriculture in Nigeria because at that time, agriculture formed the backbone of our development, not only does it provide food and security for us,” he noted.
According to him, one of the greatest disaster to agriculture in Nigeria is the abolition of the commodity boards and not putting in place anything that will help to perform the roles which these boards were performing.
“We need to understand that agriculture is now the way of life. Farming may not be profitable as trading which we now perfected as a people, there is a learning curve which we every agric person must go through”, he said.
Panelists at the event proffered solutions to agric supply chain problems in Nigeria.
Ayodeji Balogun, country manager, AFEX Commodities Exchange said agriculture is the major life line for economic growth in the country.
“What need to be done to get these commodities into the markets is there need to be market information, our grains need to be of good quality which can be compared globally. A systematic financing structure that balances both the supply chain and demand chain.
“Agriculture accounts for about 40 percent of Nigeria’s GDP and it is widely practice across the nation. This compared to more than 50 percent of the GDP in the Nederlands,” he noted.
Jamie Rixton, chief agronomist, Ellah Lakes Plc, said the current state of our inter-state roads roads needs to be fixed.
Rixton said, “If the roads are right the trucks are right. We need to have more refrigerated trucks that will take these produce from the farm to the markets.
“We must ensure that the needed skills for agriculture are actually acquired by the farmers and people should know what they are ready for and we should ensure produce from the farm are the best.”
Rotimi Fashola, team lead, projects, Elephant group, said, “Nigeria need to develop mechanization all the spectrum from land preparation, planting, harvesting and storage must be available for farmers. Our agricultural system needs to be mechanised.”