By Wole Balogun
S.A Media to VC
Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), Prof. Abayomi Sunday Fasina, on Friday explained how Nigeria can deploy the professional management of Agribusiness to end poverty and economic woes currently bedeviling the country. Prof. Fasina, who is a world renown scientist specializing in Soil Science and Land Management, said time it was when Nigeria reaped 80 percent of its huge income from agriculture until the oil boom in the 1970s made the leaders to neglect agriculture.
He revealed that the neglect of agriculture and unchecked reliance on crude oil has resulted in continued economic woes and underdevelopment, saying:”The nation’s economic doom cumulated over time since the neglect of Agriculture in the 70s. The problem became exacerbated by the lack of economic diversification.
The nation’s economy became frail to external shocks and depended mainly on the volatile global oil prices. Dismal economic scenarios transcended, as the country relies heavily on oil-related foreign exchange. “Prof. Fasina however, recommended that the management of agribusiness by technocrats, will effect the necessary change of fortunes for the nation and bring back economic prosperity, abundance of food as well as meaningful development.
The Professor of pedology at the Faculty of Agriculture in FUOYE who has travelled across the globe as a scholar and researcher in his field, made the remarks in a keynote address entitled: “Upholding Agribusiness as panacea to Nigeria’s Economic Woes”, which he gave at the 3rd year anniversary of radio broadcasting by the New Cruse 92.7 FM, a private radio station owned by Chief Wole Olanipekun, a renown lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) from Ikere-Ekiti.
The VC was ably represented at the event by Prof. Segun Bamidele Fakayode, the Director of FUOYE’s Institute for Food Security and Commercial Agriculture (lFSCA).Harping on the need to be more focused and result oriented in managing agribusiness, Prof. Fasina presented several empirical ways the agribusiness sector could be handled to achieve desired results, that would generate massive job opportunities for the youths and the unemployed, create economic prosperity and providing abundant food supply among others.
Prof. Fasina cited models of result-oriented agribusiness management in countries like Israel and Malaysia where huge successes have been recorded. He urged Nigeria to adopt such models while he also gave some challenges facing agribusiness in Nigeria. He listed some of these challenges as : “poor coordination of government schemes for agriculture. Most of the programmes lacked empirical relevance, while others were duplicates; Devastating climate change effects of drought, floods, and desertification; poor investments in capital and research into agriculture and the low productivity of production resources, high incidence of pests and diseases, poor and inadequate agricultural technology, scarcity, and high cost of improved agricultural inputs and poor remuneration for farmers’ produce with little or no world market demands for such produce. Insufficient research on cash crop marketing strategies. Other challenges enumerated were high dependence on unimproved inputs and rudimentary technologies, inadequate agricultural extension, poor storage, processing, and marketing facilities, as well as poor infrastructural development among others.
He enumerated the prospects for agribusiness while hinting that with the handling of the sector by technocrats, the opportunities that are available for the success of agriculture in Nigeria could be tapped to deliver economic prosperity , his words: “Agribusiness opportunities abound despite the diverse positive and adverse conditions in the country. The negative situations can be halted and translated into economic gains for the nation via viable Agribusiness efforts””These opportunities include, over two decades of democratic government that favours policy formulation and administration and entrepreneurial activities, vast agricultural resource base.
The highly fertile soil, water resources, and diverse climatic conditions favour the production of various crops and animals; the presence of many financial institutions with new funds and innovations that promote agripreneurial activities, and the presence of several agencies and international bodies in trade and finance and human rights advocacy represents a critical source of official development assistance to the country for agricultural development”Other opportunities according to him, are: “The country’s cash food and export crop sector has existed over a long period that precedes the nation’s independence period. The export crops are a significant source of revenue that provides livelihoods for millions in the vast non-formal sector. In addition, agricultural export trade is known to increase foreign exchange earnings, balance the payment position, and create employment and development of export-oriented manufacturing industries. It also improves government revenue through taxes, levies, and tariffs. among others. Based on the agribusiness prospects in Nigeria, Prof. Fasina therefore provided the way forward in tackling the challenges of economic woes and poverty through agricbusines.
He said: “Given the country’s experiences and the many challenges reiterated, transforming Nigeria’s agriculture into a market-oriented one requires little effort but a firm commitment from agricultural policy makers and implementers. I believe that once the prospect for commercial farming, as enumerated earlier, is well harnessed and the following recommendations are given due consideration and necessary actions taken, the future agribusiness at meeting the food security, job creation, and poverty alleviation for the country seems possible.”The Professor of Soil Scince then gave recommendations for effective and efficient management of agribusiness in Nigeria, some of which in his words are: “The need to ensure an enabling political, social, and economic environment favourable for food security. Only after that can the government implement policies aimed at eradicating poverty and improving physical and economic access to food for all; Better market access initiatives for agricultural commodities produced in the country should be encouraged”.
Other recommendations were that commercial crops grown across zones should be based on research and necessary information, Agribusiness endeavours and policy in each zone of the geopolitical zones in the country should be based on experts’ recommendations; A conducive macro-environment is needed to stimulate more significant agricultural private sector investment. Need to review the bureaucracies involved in the movement of marketable agricultural inputs and produce along their supply and value chains, review of tariff regimes across the different produce inspection and quality points to reduce the cost involved and an enhanced use of modern localised agricultural machinery and inputs..Finalizing on his address, the VC cited the success story of agribusiness which his administration as Chief Executive officer of the upwardly mobile University has been achieving with the Institute for Food Security and Commercial Agriculture, (IFSCA) of the University which has been massively effective and impactful as a tool for teaching, research and community services.
Other efforts are the establishment of commercial farm and cash crops nurseries, well equipped laboratories for agricultural researches and the remediation of marginal soils for vegetable production among othersThe occasion also included an award of excellence to the VC by the New Cruise 92.7 FM management.