Private Sector Farmers Need Storage Facility To Reduce Wastages – Oyelekan | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Private Sector Farmers Need Storage Facility To Reduce Wastages – Oyelekan

Posted: Jul 1, 2016 at 3:01 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)


Importation Of Vegetables By Supermarkets Slap On Nigerian Farmers- Oyelekan



Muftau Abiodun Oyelekan is the State President of FADAMA in Lagos state and Chairman, Ewebe Vegetable FADAMA Users Group, Ajara Farm Settlement, Badagry. In this interview with Seyi Taiwo-Oguntuase, he spoke on the need for government to support farmers with incentives, among others immediate needs of farmers to boost food production. Excerpts:


Before now you have ventured into production of piggery, poultry, cassava and vegetable, why did you leave all these to focus only on vegetable plantation?


I have been in the practice of agricultural activities for about four decades now. I have been involved in both national and state agricultural activities in all tiers of governments. I have also been an active member of so many farmers associations. I have been the state secretary for Cassava Growers Association of Nigeria.

Before now; I have been involved in so many agricultural activities to ensure that food production increases in Nigeria and Lagos state in particular. I have been practicing for quite a while in the poultry production, I have been in piggery production before now, cassava and vegetable, but now I am on vegetable mainly:fruity and leafy vegetables.

To answer your question, poultry is so expensive and capital intensive now.

If anybody wants to do meaningful poultry now and be successful, your capital base must be very huge. I have always been in integrated farming activities, whatever waste you generate in poultry, you make use of it in vegetables and in crops generally and whatever wastes you generate in piggery as well; you can always make use of it in cassava farms and vegetable farm.  So, that is why I am into integrated farm generally.


It has been claimed that for agriculture to play a reformative role of economy, it must be industrialised; is this country moving towards that direction?


Definitely no. We are not really moving towards that direction because those that are industrialising agricultural aspect of the production in Nigeria are very few.

If there are no commercial farmers, then the industrialisation will not  really come to reality in the real sense of it. We have many peasant farmers, the number of peasant farmers outnumbered the commercial farmers. Until a time we have enormous production that is when industrialisation can be meaningful.


As an expert in this sector, what will you say is the real challenge facing development of agriculture in Nigeria?


The challenges of agriculture in Nigeria are in different phases. We have that of the peasant farmers, which are the largest in Nigeria. The smallholders’ farmers need encouragement; funds must be made available to them.  If funds are made available to them and with necessary support definitely they will do more and be encouraged.

As for the commercial farmers, because we don’t have so many investors in agriculture, that is why we don’t have large chunk of farmers going into commercial and those that are smallholders are not encouraged.

Although,  Lagos State government Ministry of Agriculture is trying to encourage the small holders farmers in Lagos; both crop and livestock farmers in the state are trying to make sure that they are comfortable. Generally at the federal government level the encouragement is almost nil.


Can you explain what you meant by encouragement, how and what kind of encouragement do you envisage?


Provision of inputs and storage facilities; we produce a lot, but we do not have storage facilities, even as I am speaking with you Lagos state government does not have storage facilities both for crops and livestock. I said they have done so much for farmers in the state in terms of production, in terms of incentives, in terms of insecticide and input generally. They have tried in that regards, but the storage facility is not there.

We all know that post harvest losses is one of the major challenges facing  farmers, in your own view, how do you think government and private sector can assist farmers in this regards in order to reduce the volume of waste?


It is about collaboration of the federal government working in conjunction with state government and the private sector. In fact, let us exonerate federal government in every state, private sector could come and do joint businesses with every state government by providing storage facilities for the farmers and Lagos state in particular. Everybody that produces in Nigeria comes to Lagos to sell; go to Ketu, Mile 12, Okoko and other big markets in Lagos state, you will find lots of fruits rottening away because there are no storage facilities.

So, if the private sector could come in, I think it will go a long way to salvage the situation, because food productions and crop in general are concentrated in Lagos.

Everybody comes to Lagos from Kano even from neighboring countries; they converge in Lagos to sell their agricultural products. So, if provision of storage facilities can be decentralised into local government areas for example if we have it in Kosofe, Badagry, Ikorodu and the likes, then the problem will be totally addressed in Lagos state.

At the Federal level, how can government mitigate in this situation and and end wastages?

Such intervention can be in terms of production, tractors and farm implement should be made available for farmers at a cheaper rate. As it is, if government can provide tractors and implement, then the problem would have been reduced to a barest minimal.

Since tractor is made available at cheaper rate, farmers would produce without any stress, because it is one thing for them to be ready to do this job, it is another thing for the availability of tractors and implements.

Also, input should be supplied as an incentives to farmers; how much do we buy inputs, how much is the seeds and seedlings, even if government is making it available free of charge it is not too much.

Importantly,  I want to say suggest that agriculture should be looked into and addressed as business; not as hobby or as something that has to be handled carelessly. If private sector is coming in, if government is coming in, it has to be seriously addressed.

If tractors are made available, incentives made available inputs made available, farmers will produce then storage facility in every local government.


Have you benefitted from any of the Federal Government intervention fund?


Yes, under FADAMA. This is because FADAMA has to do with World Bank in conjunction with federal government, state government and local government I have benefitted.


Can you share your experience?


I am operating under FADAMA. FADAMA has just phased out. We just have an additional fund in which Lagos state government is participating under rice production.

I am a beneficiary of FADAMA since inception; FADAMA I, II and III. We are on FADAMA III additional fund basically on rice production. Again we are going to be empowered very soon on tractor hiring enterprise.

World Bank has just done that for us, we are waiting for the Lagos state government counterpart fund. The counterpart fund has to be made available before the World Bank will release theirs, but farmers are making their’ own ready while waiting for that of the Lagos state government.

I also benefitted under the Lagos state government input supply, about three years ago. Lagos state government has made input available to all farmers free of charge in the state.

Lagos has been supportive in the area of input support. Farmers that are on crops were given input in all aspects; sprayer, insecticide fertilizers, and seeds were made available.

Though we are still expecting the 2016 support, it was done last year and year before were we benefitted enormously. About 3,000 farmers benefitted in Lagos last year, we are still awaiting that of this year.


You said about 3,000 farmers benefitted how you will rate the effect of such support on farmers output?


I will say it has really improved my production. It has improved the production of all the farmers that benefitted in Lagos state, it has changed our lives.

Before now there has always been intervention from the state government in one way or the other from one programme to another. We have always been benefitting, I have benefited particularly in almost all the Lagos state intervention programmes because they know we are there and we are practicing.

One important thing the Lagos state government normally does is that they identify practicing farmers before they give out funds. Lagos does not just give it out to every dick, tom and harry. They identified practicing farmers, they have their data base, other details and they invite farmers when interventions are available. They are closely monitored and such gesture has affected us positively.


Recently the British American Tobacco (BAT) donated irrigation facility to Ajara farm settlement in Badagry. As a beneficiary what do you think informed the choice of your farm settlement and how has your farm gained from this?


I really want to give a big kudos to BAT for thinking grassroots. They are always taking care of smallholder farmers. They started with smallholder farmers and they are still assisting them.

They approached the Lagos state government which gave them free hand to go into the state to assess the farms and identify practicing farmers. They came here and also visited Ikorodu as well as Epe. Shortly after their arrival in Badagry they met with our own group and they discovered that we are a dynamic group.

They discovered that we are in serious production. Though, we cannot afford to buy that irrigation so they now came in. It is not only irrigation they gave us, they gave us input, they trained us to develop our capacity, we are also sent out to big institutions that produce vegetables in Lagos and Ibadan.

We were sent for training at NIHORT in Ibadan and School of Agriculture in Epe on capacity building.  Again they exposed us to other service providers who are off takers that will be buying our products at the end of it. Later they gave us irrigation system to make water available all year round to guarantee regular and uninterrupted production.


Before the donation, what had been your experience and how will you rate the post intervention harvest?


Our production has been very low before they came in, but not totally low, we are practicing in our own capacity because we cannot afford to buy the irrigation system. However, the provision of irrigation system really increased our production and we are producing all round the year.

We don’t really have to wait during the dry season because we don’t have water. But now water is been made available and we have been producing round the year and it has really boost our production.


You produce tomatoes in your farm, are you also affected with the tomato blight that ravaged farms recently?


The effect of the tomatoes is everywhere, it is not only in a particular area of Nigeria and it really affected us too. This is how it works, if the northerners are in production we the southerners will not be producing, because the season favoured them as at that time. This is the time we are preparing in the southwest because we are waiting for the rain.

In the northern part they have irrigation all over with the dams. They dam their farms, we don’t have  dams here so we have to wait until when we have steady rain so when we have steady rain we start planting.

The tomato disease in the north affected everybody . We only complement each other when they are producing we will not be in production by the time we are producing they will not be in production. So if anybody says it is the northerners that are producing all the tomatoes we use in Nigeria it is not true. We complement one another. By the time they are off season we are producing, the marketers come here to buy and take it to the north and while we are off season the marketers go there and bring it here, so this is how it works. So, if it affected them it also affected us.


Federal Government says it is diversifying the economy through agriculture; given the right resources could agriculture alone have sustained the present economic crunch?


I am in total support if the Federal Government is coming into this direction. I think it is going to be a blessing to the Nigerian farmers. It is going to be a blessing to Nigerian populace; it is going to be a blessing to Nigeria economy. I can tell you that agriculture alone can sustain us because we have it in different components. We have crops, we have livestock, and we have processing in different agricultural value chain. It is going to assist the economy because by the time we go into production some will be producing, others in processing, storage, marketing, networking and research. So, it is a total business value chain.

It does not concentrate on production alone; while some will engage in export everybody will be in business that is why I am saying that it is going to affect the general living.

Agriculture affect all the economy, talk of cocoa, oil palm production, vegetable. There is no aspect of vegetable that you cannot produce in Nigeria, I am not happy that big supermarkets still import vegetables; it is a slap to Nigerian farmers.

If we can go to South Africa to go and import some of their vegetables to Nigeria are you telling us we don’t have farmers that can produce such vegetable in this country? We can produce all kinds of vegetables except the ones that are not tropicalise, ones it is tropicalised it can be planted in Nigeria. So, it is going to have a positive effect and everybody will be busy even if you are working you can as well have a farm, it does not stop you from producing, so if everybody is producing and people are processing I want to believe that everybody will be in business.