Mr. Humphery Otalor is the Marketing Communications Manager of Diezegoff. He has been with the company for over two years and has been supportive to the organization both in the agricultural and communication division, marketing communications and campaigns.
In a chat with Agrobusiness team at the company’s head office Ikeja, Lagos, Otalor spoke on how Diezegoff has been contributing to the nation’s agriculture sector with their innovative green-house initiative.
Green house is a controlled and conducive environment to enable farmers grow plants all year round, instead of seasonal. It is available in 8meters by 24 meters and 8 meters by 48meters respectively. Our Green-house product is a complete package, that is, everything a farmer will require to farm with is made available, e.g the Solaric cover (this allows light amount of sunlight into the green house, it also controls the amount of water that enters the green house structure.
The green structures are well constructed with modernised steel that can last more than 10 years, it also comes with four different fertilizers which enhances the soil to enable farming all through the year regardless of the season. The fertilizers include; Humus NPK, Calcium based fertilizer, Potassium based fertilizer and Smart fertilizer. About twelve other items are also included in the package.
Green-house can be cited in any part of the country and beyond, because it creates her own environment, however, in the middle belt where the soil is prone to bacteria, the soil must first be treated before green-house commences to avoid the issue of bacteria waste.
The financial requirement for greenhouse (cost)
Green house is very affordable considering the enormous benefits of this technology ranging from material, seedlings, farm tools, fertilizers, installation of the structure, insurance and agro related advice that will be deployed to the farmers.
Green-house kicked off 4 to 5 years ago, by creating awareness, testing the waters and the possible acceptability by farmers. Right now, we have over two thousand green-houses scattered across the country and are operational. We have farmers who have 90 green-houses with the equivalent of the 8 by 24 meters, doing well supplying Grocery stores in Lagos.
Motive behind Diezengoff green-house initiative?
We have looked at the transportation of tomatoes, 60 percent of the produce perish before it gets to the market, however, with the green house concept (which was founded in Kenya before ]it moved to Nigeria) which doesn’t depend on season, seasonality, distance stress on this perishable goods and transportation cost have been erased with the introduction of green-house to Nigeria.
Effect of Government policies on your organisation?
Generally, there have been both positives and negative effect of government policies on businesses. The Nigerian govt is making effort to reposition the nation’s agriculture sector for it to take the fore front in Africa, in order words, more sufficient rather than depend on other countries for agricultural produce. But they can do more, the government should only correct their approach because farmers in Nigeria are doing well, despite lacking access to market and good storage facilities. Sometimes the governmentt bans importation of some goods but fails to create alternative. In a nutshell, the policies are of good intentions, but appropriate plans are not in place to better the situation.
The government has come up with good policies; like the duty paid on tractors, used to be 25% but it’s now on 5%, but we are hopeful for 0% for this farming equipment, this makes it affordable for the farmer, and therefore eliminating the question; “Is farming really cheap “. The govt means well on the long run.
How has the reduction of duty from 25% to 5% affected the green house business?
What is the point of reducing the duty to 25% when tractors are to come into the country completely built rather than “completely knocked down”, thereby limiting jobs and causing unemployment for the youths who couple the tractors into a whole. Secondly, how many tractors can a container occupy, at the end of the day due to the already built tractors, less tractors can only be imported as against when it is completely knocked down, it’s still not affecting the cost positively. A businessman has to consider the logistics involved at the long run. Our tractors are different from that of other suppliers because they are cost friendly.
How has government policies (ban on importation and reduction of duty fee) affected patronage from your clients?
Patronage is increasing but not as a result of government policies but has as a result of the global change in terms of the global oil market. In Africa, more people are migrating from oil and gas to agriculture. In Nigeria, people who have lost active service in their jobs once they think of alternatives to make ends meet, agriculture comes to mind for them. Agriculture means different things to different people, some it’s a passion, others is an escape route to a better life, while some is just to join the band wagon of those already in, so it not necessarily the government policies that have increased patronage. However, some pronouncement by the government has given people reasons to venture into agriculture
How do you see the growth of Nigeria in the nearest future?
Nigeria can become a global power in terms of agriculture in the nearest future.
What technologies have you introduced over the years and which other are in the pipeline?
We started green-house actively in 2012, and recently, we came up with other new technologies which we launched in January 2017. We are hoping to get into partnership with agricultural manufacturing companies. We are looking at meeting the needs of farmers by improving on our technology. Very soon we will be coming up with the combined harvester which will be launched soon, we are planning on something very durable and efficient to manage in terms of cost, especially for the small and medium scale farmers. Over time as a company, we try to come up with technology that will make farming easier for the farmers.
How long has Diezengoff been in existence?
Diezengoff has been in existence since 1958 and the company has been evolving, at some point, there where several divisions such as electromechanical division, communication technology, public health, agriculture sector and so many others. The company has evolved to the point where we have two major divisions and other units in them; with the agric division coming up with the green-house initiative.
In summary, how would you say you have influenced agriculture after 60years of existence?
Dizengoff has been providing solutions to farmers in areas of technology and we have been a pacesetter because all efforts we have been able to put together, other companies have began to do same, and we are not bothered by that. It is our joy that we are meeting the demands and needs of these farmers.