Head Emmanuel Folorunsho Ogunnayke, chairman of Folhope Limited, the glory of the company for integrated agriculture, which includes livestock, crop production, aquaculture and others. In this interview with NURUDEEN ALIMI, he reveals the various problems affecting the growth of agriculture in Nigeria and ways to address them.
To what extent can you say that your company has contributed to the development of agriculture in Nigeria in the past forty years?
Our contribution to the development of agriculture is better spoken by those who are witnessing what we are doing, so we can not praise ourselves, but all we know is that we are making our own quota for the development of agriculture in Nigeria. We are integrated into agriculture, which includes the production of livestock and the production of agricultural crops. When it comes to practical experience, we help several students of agriculture in their practical acquisition of knowledge. In this case, you can say that we are contributing to the development of agriculture in order to practice in this area. Then we produce food at our own level and at our own pace, we produce eggs, chickens, produce palm oil, produce fish, pigs. Thus, you can say that we are making our own quota in the development of agriculture in Nigeria.
Speaking of agricultural practice, can you say that Nigeria is doing it properly compared to what is happening in other African and other developed countries of the world?
If we are not going to deceive ourselves, I will say that we still have a long way to go. We have a series of agricultural policies, but the government must do more about implementation. For example, now in the state of Oyo, many incubators are closed, and among them is our own incubator here, and the primary reason is the irregular supply of electricity along with a high tariff that becomes unbearable to support agricultural production. When we do not have electricity, we are largely dependent on the use of a power unit and a liter of diesel fuel today between N240 and N250. No one can use this for agricultural production and make significant progress. Therefore, in this case, farmers still face serious problems in this country. In the field of crop production, farmers also face serious problems. Only that the truth is bitter, but bitter or not, you must speak only the truth. In those days, if you are coming from Lagos to Ibadan, Oyo, Ogbomoso, Akure, Ovo and Benin, both to the left and to the right of the road, you will see a lot of corn, I mean fresh, which are visible to those that are fried or cooked. You will see plenty of yams of tubers, peppers and other agricultural products. All this has become things of the past. All the areas used for the production of grains since that time are now flooded by pastoralists. In this case, if the measures are not taken, the efforts of the federal government in the field of food supply in Nigeria can become a useless labor activity. In the southwestern part of the country to date, almost 70-80% of peasant farmers have released their villages and farms because of the invasion of pastoralists grazing on their food crops. Sometimes they attack farmers, mutilate and kill them, and you know that agriculture is too tiring by nature and very expensive. I do not know of any farmer who will produce grains for livestock to eat and continue to produce. Today, farmers leave villages on a massive scale in urban areas and in the near future will pose a threat to food security. In another three to four five years, there will be a terrible famine in this country if we do not take care if we do not want to continue to deceive ourselves. If anyone says that everything is good in the field of agricultural production in Nigeria, such a guy can deceive himself, and there is a saying that it is better to tell someone the truth and make people cry than tell them lies to make them laugh. Therefore, in this case, we still have a long way to go, in Nigeria, everything is not as good as in agriculture.
As the main interested party, how do you think, how to move forward in addressing all these issues that you raised?
One way to move forward is to make electricity available and affordable for farmers. In addition, there is a need to curb the surpluses of pastoralists that graze in human cultures. Well, people say they need to provide funds, yes, it's easy to go to the bank to take out a loan, but what will the result of the loan be after you may have invested it in agriculture only for the cattle that must graze? In some cases, they will say that if cattle graze on your farm, you must seek a compromise. Can money count on the availability of products? Cash can not count on the availability of food, those who are engaged in agriculture, their main goal is to produce food for their closest family, then the balances can be exported to the market to receive funds. So when you say that after cattle could graze on your crops, you have to come and take money, are we going to slaughter money in our solution as food? Or are we going to put money in the bank and prepare it as an amal? We should not deceive ourselves, money can not be a reward for food. To date, if we move imported food from our market, the market will be almost empty. Therefore, the government should consider the issue of electricity and livestock consumption. Growing cattle is not strange and not new in Nigeria, but why they are deadly this time is something that we do not know. If there is no hidden agenda, I see no reason why they should be too lethal, and they crash to cause chaos in the field of agricultural production, and people will face serious farming. Not everyone will have access to food, because some people just run many people, can not afford three square meals a day. Many people ask for food, it's easy for those who are in money, allow me to use this phrase in money to afford any food at any cost. But what of poor people? They will not be able to afford it. When there is no surplus, you can not expect the price to drop. The surplus of food will be an antidote to lower prices.
For many years, the Government of Nigeria has said that it is working to focus attention on oil and agriculture as the main source of income for the country. How do you assess the seriousness of the government in this regard?
If they are serious, they will know what they are, and if they do not know. When we talk about government, collective people make the government not an individual, but all I know is that in this country we are deceiving ourselves. If we do not deceive ourselves, directly from the Operation "We Guide the Nation", the "Green Revolution" and many other politicians, what is the result of today? Now that we must have everything in place, the cattlemen create problems. As we diversify oil and agriculture as a source of income, when crops are destroyed by cattle. If there is a sign of seriousness in them, we will find out, the Bible speaks according to its fruits, we learn them. If we sit down, and the government can not prevent the eviction of livestock, is this a sign of seriousness? To date, those who support food accessibility in this country are peasants. We have other people who can join it on a large scale, but within four years they will leave, but peasant farmers are the savior of Nigerian food security, and they are rejected, killed, maimed and shipped out of farms. In the future, there is a danger for agricultural production in Nigeria.
Speaking of local rice production in Nigeria, not long ago some state governments said that they produce rice on a large scale. In fact, some have come up with a series of rice pyramids, can you say that Nigeria is on its way to stop importing rice?
Only the future can say, let's keep our fingers crossed and see what awaits us in the future. But all I know is that rice imports continue, rice contraband continues. If you have available in abundance, no one will dare enter the import, that's the fact. But if they say there are more than enough, then let the public be the judge, but all I know is that the import of rice is still going on.
In conclusion, sir, what are your words for farmers to encourage them not to give up, despite the various problems they face?
My advice to farmers is that they must continue to endure. Although there is a limit to human endurance, but I encourage them to continue to endure, hoping that after darkness there will come a glorious dawn. Let's hope that the government will go right at the right time to mitigate the consequences of the problems faced by farmers. In those days, we have so many people who are involved in farming, small-scale agriculture has all become something of the past, and a drop of water makes the ocean. A little bit from here and there when you collect it together, it's a long way. If you are able to produce yams that will last your family for five days, you will not go to the market for five days. So also cassava, corn and other grains, if you are able to produce something that will last you for three weeks, you will have no reason to enter the market within these three weeks, so, as I said, a drop of water makes ocean.