Interview

June 9, 2024

We will use farmers’ productivity to fight food crisis – Nwazulu

Food

By Gabriel Ewepu

Managing Director of Global M-Co-Soci Ltd, Abuchi Nwazulu, in this interview, speaks on his company’s quest to boost food production and what government is doing to end food crisis. 

 What really attracted you to the agricultural space?


What attracted me to the agricultural space is because I saw a lot of potential there based on what is going on in agriculture, and I discovered that Nigeria has never even woken up as far as agriculture is concerned. For instance, the cassava value chain, there are a lot of by-products from cassava, also in the maize value chain including the guinea-corn value chain and there is  a lot of money these value chains can generate for the Nigerian farmer or investor. Unfortunately, people do not know about it or have the idea about them, and that is why I came in to see how I can create that drive and knowledge in people to know the value of what they are cultivating.

Can you itemise these interventions you are talking about?


In Nigeria, we cultivate for personal consumption, but it is important to plant the crops and also process them. For instance, after planting a potato, then harvest. However, the potato, often times, gets rotten but if the farmers are sanitised and made to understand that the potato they have harvested can be processed by slicing them and processed into a flour and also potato chips, which a farmer could do normally.

What have you done so far to help farmers as a company?


Basically, the first thing we do is to encourage farmers and let them understand that they have a business already. We let them see the dignity in farm business because it is to make a profit and, at the same time, feed the nation. With this, we now introduce our farm machinery to them in order to make the cultivation of their crops less cumbersome.

How many farmers have benefitted from your interventions?


We have empowered farmers in their numbers as a company. In Gombe State, over 500 farmers have benefited from our empowerment, in Adamawa State, the farmers are in their thousands, while in Taraba and Bauchi states, the benefiting farmers are also in their thousands, and we are doing more to ensure farmers get the best inputs for great outputs. We are committed to it because our farmers in this country have the potential to lead food production and nutrition including food security.

 How long have you been in partnership with the Rice Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, RIPPMAN?


RIPPMAN just started coming up, and we want to use their platform to reach out to the farmers across the country. If they can be sincere by ensuring that their state coordinators are real farmers, that will enable us to achieve the expected goal. We want to encourage farmers because without encouraging them, there will be a problem in food production, even though government can do it for them. We want to disabuse the minds of people from always depending on government. Let the farmers also know that there are things they can do and when you are doing what you are supposed to do, government will do what they are supposed to do. Like China, whose population is about 2 billion, had never cried out for hunger; we, in Nigeria, whose population is not up to that is doing it, hence people should think out of the box to drastically reduce their dependence on government for everything and if they set the motion, government will see it because government has good plans but the intermediaries at times use the programmes to enrich themselves, thereby making it difficult for farmers to access those things they need. We are dealing with real farmers and not political farmers and we are comfortable with that.

As a private player and stakeholder in the Nigerian agricultural space, have you benefited anything from government policies as far as ease of doing business is concerned?


As a company, we have never benefited anything from government policies. Why?

Because as a company coming up, government will keep watch to see how far we have gone, and sometimes if you are not in the system, some people in the system will hijack the policy but for the fact that they hijack the policy, we must keep on moving. In the aspect of benefiting or what we are to benefit, if the government can give adequate security to farmers, they will expand their productivity and provide food for Nigerians than what we are seeing.

Is insecurity a challenge to your company?
Definitely, and not only my business alone but it also affects the farmers, buyers of farm produce, and it is a big problem, this is because young people who are supposed to be on the farms have moved to urban areas due to these security challenges, therefore insecurity remains a big threat to food production, availability and affordability. And, as a company, sometimes it gets discouraged because after empowering these farmers with inputs, and when they have cultivated their crops, cows and their owners will go on the farms and eat up everything, and we seriously want government to intervene in this issue.

Do you have any issue on tax payment?


On the issue of tax payment, I will say yes because the government really wants to help Nigerian businesses. We are also government. Without us, there is no government. When the tax is too much and burdensome, at the end of the day, your commodity price is on the high side, which is not supposed to be so. The profit you are supposed to earn as a farmer, government will extract it from you, but if government can be considerate and reduce the tax burden, I think it will be easier for us.

  How are you going to score the Tinubu-led administration as far as food production is concerned?
President Bola Tinubu has a very good mission. For example, this food production issue we are talking about, Nigeria has fertile land which can be cultivated for feeding including export, but the major issue is for government to support us and if that is done, definitely there would be an expansion because we have the track record of what we are doing, and government can go on and investigate what we say and give us a trial, and we will bring the result.