An agricultural expert, Alhaji Tajudeen Olatunji, has urged the Federal Government to double its commitment and devout more resources towards the development of the agricultural sector in the country.
He said it is the only means to drive the nation’s economic growth and create more employment for youths.
Olatunji, who is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Onifarm Limited, made the call in Ibadan, while speaking with journalists during the launch of an online platform where members of the public can place orders for fresh farm produces, agric tools and equipments etc and have it delivered to them.
He said there was need for the government at various levels to dedicate more finances to the sector, which he insisted contributes up to 22 percent of Nigeria’s GDP.
According to him, if the sector is well repositioned, it would lead to an increase in production of agric commodities by farmers and job creations. He added that it would further contribute optimally to the nation’s GDP growth and attract millions of dollars of investors’ funds looking for a home in agricultural sector.
Olatunji said “the enormous challenges bewildering the sector cut across inadequate infrastructure especially in transportation, storage, power, lack of access to credit,” adding that youths lack of interest in farming activities must be converted by investing more in the sector in order to remain sustainable in the global market.
Speaking further, Olatunji noted that great will and determination are needed to put the country on a big agricultural production pedestal.
“Nigeria is endowed with the capacity to produce a variety of agricultural products if the right resources and platforms are provided for farmers especially in financing.
“It is very painful that in spite of all our resources we are still at this level in the agricultural sector, while government is coming out to the media to say they are supporting farmers by giving out grants that never gets to them,” he said.
Olatunji stated that a lot of farmers have lost interest, some disappointed and did not believe in all what he called ‘scam’ but which the government calls grant for agricultural purpose.
He admonished the government to make access to these funds easier by reducing the number of intermediaries and processes involved in assessing it, noting that there should be a single agency in charge and concerned with the welfare of farmers.
“Also , there should be a direct cooperation with farmers cooperatives to close the huge gaps and regain the trusts of those interested in farming as people that need these loans don’t really get them,” Olatunji said.
Speaking on the motive for setting up Onifarm, an online global farmers market, Alhaji Olatunji said it is a platform where farmers and business owners have access to quality buyers and where buyers can as well find the variety of farm produce, animals, tools and equipment with different options to buy.
“At Onifarm, we don’t want anyone to be scammed. That is why we put in place a system, where if you as a buyer buy a product, you must pay. What we do is that if you pay as a buyer, the money is kept in a bank by Onifarm and until the buyer gets the products, the money will not be released to the farmer, wherever he may be.
“We try to mediate and make sure that nobody is out with their crops or their money. In a situation whereby the buyer gets his product but it does not meet his expectations, there are measures in place to amicably sought it out.
“First of all, the buyer must specify the quality of the products he wants to buy. However, after specifying the quality and the seller does not meet the demand, the buyer is entitled to a refund and that is the reason for holding the money until the products get to the buyer. Basically, this is the transaction channel,” he disclosed.