The CEO of Abuja-based BROTE Urban Vegetable Farm and Processing Limited, Mr. Innocent Mokidi gave a short talk at a Vicampro event in Lagos, advicing all farmers present at that event, stating that you cannot afford to wait for government or banks. Just go out and do your thing.
Despite the decline in GDP, the agric sector recorded some growth. What do you think is responsible?
The major reason for the growth in the agriculture sector is the willingness of farmers to explore new and modern ways of improving on their methods. Of course, the ban on importation of some agricultural produce also helped. However, as I said, it is largely due to self-help. For instance, I spent some years in some Asian and European countries, and still go their at intervals, to get skills and knowledge.
Again, I have just entered into a form of partnership with Vicampro for corn and groundnut farming. Although they are a potato company, the crops I grow are necessary to turn the soil for them to farm their potatoes. I have also constructed a green house all by myself. These are the kind of things Nigerian farmers do to boost production.
There is so much noise about loans, input and facilities from governments and bank. Have you used any?
I have not enjoyed any from government or any bank. The attempts I made met with failure because banks will ask for collateral. In the first place, if I had the type of collateral they wanted, I will not ask for their help. Furthermore, there is supposed to be a document on Nigeria’s soil map, which would have been of great help to farmers. But like millions of other farmers, I don’t have access to these things.
Comparing your beginning to the present state of your farm, what are your projections for agric in the future?
Well, all I can say is that I thank God for where I am right now. My projections for the future is that in the next five years agriculture in Nigeria will take over from oil and more young people will play bigger roles in the sector. There is so much arable land in the country that the craze for white collar jobs is ironical.
Aside the much-talked about and expected agric revolution, what are the realities with you farmers?
Me, as a person, I don’t like to talk about government. But I will say here that we are not yet serious in this country. We are still stuck in the old ways of agricultural practice. While countries that know the value of agriculture do things, here we all just talk and talk.
For instance, the seeds you will get in this country were developed 20 years ago. How can you achieve greater yields with hybrids of two decades ago? To compound the issue, if you want to import seeds (of any plant), you are limited to 5 kilogrammes at any time. What can that do for you? If we really want to get it right, government needs to inject young people that have passion for agriculture into decision-making process.