Teaching Farmers Profit Making Tricks

Teaching farmers how to farm is not enough; experts say they must also be taught to start, run and grow a profitable business to make a living, reports DANIEL ESSIET.

Olatunde  Aroye (not real name), got a piece of land to do farming to support his low monthly income. Every sowing season, he puts his faith in the latest variety of seeds, hoping for bountiful yields.

So far, he has not been able to make a huge success of it. He is among the growing number of employed and unemployed graduates, defeated by the challenges of eking out a livelihood from the land.

For him, farming is precarious: little infrastructure, limited electricity and people did not understand it is possible to farm and make a living from it.

Though he has established a business growing maize, he does not see himself as a farmer, because there is still so much to learn. Having faced some challenges, he knows that success depends on good training and technical expertise to overcome the challenges of farming.

With so many cases of failures, the Provost, Federal College of Agriculture, Akure, Ondo State, Dr Samson Odedina said there is  need to teach farmers not only to farm but also how to start, run and grow a farm into a profitable business.

He has been involved in extensive training programme in crop production backed by research and extension support. This training enabled farmers and would- be -entrepreneurs to learn the importance of soil quality, pest control and water conservation. In the process, the farmers   identified the best cropping rotations for general adoption, using pilot plots and extension farms to demonstrate and experiment with new techniques.

For a small fee, the  school’s experts take samples of soil and water, analyse them, and advise farmers on what to farm in given conditions and how. Besides, efforts are made to assist the farmers growing crops with linkages to markets.  The farmers are trained in marketing skills, building enterprises, best farming practices, food technology and simple processing techniques that can add value to a product.

Farmers, according to him, have to learn the importance of meeting quality control standards; for long-term contracts depend on this.

Alongside its focus on improving livelihoods, he said the school’s programmes have created   jobs for young people and women and this contributed in turn to social, economic and political stability in the area. This is because workers come from across the different communities to work on the farms and this opened many opportunities for people. Through this, people who didn’t have work found a way to farm and now business is booming.

So far, he said the school has done a lot to promote rural wealth through market enhancement by linking smallholders to buyers and processors.

Even farmers with small plots of land, he noted, can hope to increase their access to remunerative local markets.

Access to these markets, he noted, would help to accelerate sales and returns and therefore, the spread of new intensive cropping and diversification techniques. There are increasing activities to boost food production and farmers’ production.

Spurred by the need to produce more rice, Lagos State said it is collaborating with Kebbi State o develop the rice value chain.

The State Governor, Mr Akinwumi Ambode disclosed this at the occasion of the 2015 World Food Day celebration in Lagos. In his address which was read by Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Yakub Basorun, the governor said Lagos consumes over 50 per cent of national rice  demand which is put at over two metric  tonnes valued at N365 billion.

He said: “While Kebbi State is one of the highest producers of paddy rice in Nigeria; Lagos is undoubtedly the highest consumer of milled rice with ultra-modern rice processing facilities in agro industrial estates located at Imota in Ikorodu Division.

To boost processing, he said the state plan to establish more rice processing facilities in collaboration with the private sector. This, he expressed, also, will help to create more job opportunities for the people. He said also that the government is working towards providing facilities so as to boost agricultural productivity.

He said the state plans to give incentives to farmers as part of a long term strategy to improve the  food supply chain. One of the strategies is to provide incentives and inputs to enterprising residents, including the farm estates in Ikorodu, Epe and Badagry.

In furtherance of the policy of making arable land available for farming, he said the state has acquired land in Ogun, Osun and the Federal Capital Territory with a view to allocating plots of land to interested farmers who will sign Off-Take Agreements with the state government. Increased   food production, he believes, could help the nation reduce its dependence on imported foods.

The Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Lagos State Chapter, Otunba Femi Oke, said his group is working with producers to help transform the commodities value chain, making it inclusive and efficient.

In collaboration with the Lagos State government and exporters, Oke, said the association is providing farmers with continuous feedback on the quality and grade of their produce. This has enabled small scale producers to improve processes along the entire value chain, including picking, washing and drying of commodities. In this way, they improve the quality and value of the commodities that they harvest. The value chain, according to him, is more efficient as small farmers have easy access to grading, storage and transport services provided by members of the association and exporters.

Along the line, commodities are analysed to make sure that there are no traces of mould, disease or parasites. If they are intended for the export market, it is important that the commodities meet international consumer health and safety standards.

At the national level, the campaign is to stimulate nationwide food production and increase farmers’ incomes.

Addressing a forum on family farming organised by gourmet guide234.com at the University of Lagos, Lagos, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina said agricultural transformation and food security will continue to feature prominently in the nation’s development agenda.

According to him, there is a renewed vision for agricultural transformation, which placed emphasis on the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

With declining oil revenue, he said the agricultural sector has the greatest potential to produce a substantial share of the nation’s revenue as well as boost food production.

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, he said sees agriculture as a great a major player in efforts to overcome hunger and poverty.

With the appropriate management methods, training and innovative technologies, he said the nation has the opportunity to build sustainable agribusinesses that will generate high yield, quality food and long-lasting economic betterment.

For Nigeria to feed herself, he said there was a need to increase the productivity and profitability of the nation’s family farmers. Adesina challenged media practitioners to partner in government’s quest to transform agriculture.

He said the agenda of a green revolution could succeed if journalists report agriculture well by encouraging the government to adopt good agricultural policies as well as the farmers to take up good practices to transform the sector.

He said the media has a role to play to help the government in its bid to transform the nation’s agriculture into a highly productive and sustainable system and enable Nigeria to be food sufficient and food secured.

He called for the adoption of modern methods.

Dr Kayode Oyeleye, Special Assistant (Media) to former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who spoke at the event, said farmers needed to use sustainable strategies to achieve results and mentioned irrigation and the cultivation of improved seeds as some of the new things they could learn.

Alongside its focus on improving livelihoods, Oyeleye urged the government to invest considerably in providing services and creating better conditions for farmers.

The farm settlements, he said should have markets, roads, housing and consistent electrical supply.

This, according to him will enable smallholders to become viable suppliers to big buyers and  be successfully linked with market intermediaries, processors and exporters.

He said farmers need to participate in programmes that assist them on their farms to improve yields, reduce use of fertilizer and pesticides, and increase profitability. While many innovative technologies exist, he said they often are not integrated into the tools that farmers use every day.

Oyeleye said though technology, tools and know-how to assure better farming future exist, the reforms have not being widely adopted, even when they provide positive financial returns. According to him, the nation’s agriculture system cannot afford to wait for piecemeal adoption of better practices and solutions.

He said tools and solutions are emerging to help farmers see these opportunities. In order to unlock the potential value for farmers, Oyeleye said research institutes need to work together and coordinate their actions to make agriculture more sustainable.

According to him, a high proportion of smallholder farmers need to move out of poverty stressing that for this to happen, they must have access to improved staple crop varieties, inputs and services.

He stressed the need for capacity building to continue to be mission critical for research and development, including the adoption revolution.



Source: The Nation Nigeria

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