Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has declared agriculture to be a serious and demanding industry.
Obasanjo however claimed that scholars, financial institutions, and the government have been unfair to individuals in the agriculture industry, conspiring to victimize them.
Obasanjo added that anyone who wants to make money like Aliko Dangote should not venture into agric business because of the risks involved, saying that Dangote himself tried it but didn’t make it.
It was gathered that the former President led this out in Lagos while delivering his keynote address at the Agribusiness Investors’ Network organized by the Innovative Youth in Agriculture (I-Youth) in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Mastercard Foundation.
“As a farmer, will you go and take a loan at 20 percent? Unless you are growing cocaine, you can’t survive. I know that I will not take a loan that is more than double digit because there is nothing I can grow that will make it. If we are here and talking from now till tomorrow, we cannot achieve anything.
“Agric business is a serious business. There is virtually no business as serious, as engaging and demanding as agriculture. If you want to be an Aliko Dangote, don’t go into farming because you will not make it.
“Aliko tried that and he didn’t make it until he went into cement production. What we are trying to do here is to correct the injustice that has been done to the farmers in the past and I hope that injustice will be corrected because the researchers, the financial institutions and the government have all victimised the farmers.
“Farmers have been the victims from all of you and it is not that all of you are not doing enough. I am close enough to IITA to know that the research works to achieve a great drive in agriculture in Nigeria and the rest of Africa, but how much of it goes to these farmers? Of what use or purpose is good research that is locked up in the shelves of research institutions?
“The third group that victimised us as farmers, is the government. They speak from both sides of the mouth. They say something today and a different thing tomorrow. So how can you do business successfully?”
Declaring that the youngest farmer in his village who happens to be his cousin is 75-year old, Obasanjo asked, “How do we replace them?”
“We need to see agriculture as being less of talk and more of action, timely action, right actions. Whatever you are doing in agriculture requires action and attention.
“Agriculture is a serious business that requires commitment, funding, reasonable cost, right and appropriate inputs, beginning from seeds. It requires stability and predictability,” he added.