THE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of F.A Feedmills and Farms, Ijebu-Ode, Chief Fatai Adebayo Soewu, has said that both the federal and state governments need to increase supports to the agricultural sector.
Soewu noted that it was imperative this critical sector was properly funded because of its capacity to help reduce problem of unemployment and boost food production in the country.
He also encouraged youths to embrace agriculture saying that it is one of the lucrative sectors of the economy that could be explored to reduce the problem of unemployment bedeviling the country.
The farmer, who also sits aboard Aquabash Table Water, stated this while speaking with our correspondent on how the country could leverage on the abundant opportunities in agriculture sector to boost food production and to reduce unemployment.
Recalling his humble beginning as a farmer, Otunba Soewu said he had started as a supplier of raw materials such as maize, sorghum,Ground nut cakes, soya beans meal, fish meal, bone meal, oyster shells among others for production of poultry feeds to the farmers within ijebu and Ogun state at large.
He added that due to the growth of the business, he decided to set up a feed mill in 1998, and was buoyed further and set up a farm with particular interests in poultry, piggery and fishery.
Soewu said the farm which took off with 18 workers in 1998 now has nothing less than 300 workers eking their living from the farm, while also contributing their quota to the economic growth and the development of the country.
He further explained that, though he diversified into other businesses such as oil and gas as well as production of bottled waters, but setting up of all these businesses were made possible and wholly financed from proceeds and profits generated from his agricultural enterprise.
He said, in spite of graduating with a Upper Credit in Accountancy from The Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro which would have availed him an opportunity of being a professional in accounting field, he identified with farmers and grabbed the opportunity in agricultural sector and today he could be counted among the employers of labour in Nigeria.
He stated further that he decided to share his personal story and experience to encourage unemployed youths in Nigeria urging them to embrace agriculture not to only boost food production but to reduce unemployment and also the poverty rate in Nigeria.
He said, this is why any government willing to reduce unemployment, eradicate poverty and also willing to boost food production can’t do without creating an enabling environment and give enormous supports to the farmers.
Soewu said these supports could be in form of provisions of no interest loans, allocation of lands for poultry and fishery , provision of tractors either for free or at subsidised price for cultivation of lands, provision of improved seedlings, good access roads among others to encourage the youths to take to agriculture.
He said, ‘’It’s so sad that with our good weather conditions and fertile land we have not been able to produce enough for ourselves not to talk of exporting to other countries to generate good foreign exchange and boost our economy”.
Soewu said “we still spend billions of naira on importation of rice, Soya Meal, Groundnut cake even as we speak, there is an acute shortage of maize, Soyameal, Groundnut cake, being the major raw materials for the poultry farmers. Rather than looting the treasury, our leaders should channel those funds to develop the agriculture sector. We have all it takes to feed the world”.
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