….to commence food production on 16, 000 hectares of land
By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- FOLLOWING the diversification move by the Federal Government through the agricultural sector, an agribusiness firm, Agrecourse Integrated Services Limited, has disclosed boosting the sector with investment worth over N7.1bn in three years.
This was made known by the Chief Executive Officer, Agrecourse Integrated Services Limited, Ayoola Oluga, in a chat with Vanguard at the weekend, while speaking on what the firm has done to boost productivity of smallholder farmers including wealth creation and employment generation on a win-win situation.
Oluga explained that the firm came up with a vision and strategy to assist smallholder farmers who have been faced with the challenge of access to finance, therefore has become an alternative investment platform where funds are raised for small holder farmers who are not able to operate commercially.
He also stated that a lot of farmers though they have lands, without the quality inputs they cannot produce optimally. So the company decided to harness the power of many like ‘crowd-funding’ to pull financial resources to invest in smallholder farmers who cultivate rice, wheat, maize, and are into poultry farming, and others.
According to him the government has tried to help in this area but some farmers have still not been able to get this aid, which prompted them to see the need to come in and assist smallholder farmers with funds, although not directly given cash but use the funds to provide quality farm inputs including improved seeds, fertilizers, extension services, and others.
He further explained that the investment that would span from 2019-2021, this brings to an estimated cost of production of N309, 400, 000, N1,547,000,000 and N3,306,000,000 for 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively.
He said: “Agriculture is an area that benefits practically every other sector; food processing, making of garments, a part of production of foods, it serves as raw materials to several other sectors and so we cannot just let it die like that.
“Agriculture needs the attention that it deserves, if it can be given that attentions then things are going to go right and there is actually a huge demand gap at the moment in our commodities even locally. We produce way less than we consume, talk less of exporting it.
“We are projecting to cultivate about 1000 hectares in 2019, 5,000 hectares in 2020 and 10,000 hectares in 2021. This brings us to an estimated cost of production of N309, 400, 000, N1, 547, 000, 000 and 3, 306, 000, 000 for 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively. Our projected revenues for these three years are N570, 000, 000, N3, 750,000, 000 and N7, 500, 000, 000, respectively.
“So our focus is on the farmers, our vision is to give empowerment to small holder farmers and our mission is aid the transmission of small holder farmers from subsistence to commercial farming with the help of our partners who provide us this funds and in the process we want to enhance food security in our nation.”
Explaining how investment is done by his organization to generate profits he said that, “When we bring in the money we use it to buy quality inputs for the farmers, we moderate the entire process, we do not give cash to the farmers.
“We partner with several agro-dealers, those approved by the state council and from the moment we buy those inputs for the farmers, and we have extension workers that monitor the activities of these farmers from that very day till the day they harvest the crops because we don’t just leave the farmers to do it their way and all these is geared towards generating optimal yields.
“And when we generate optimal yields we are able to pay back the money, we don’t call it loan, and it is like an investment. When we sell all these produce after harvest we give the sponsors their money back and whatever profits we make from that everybody shares.”