◦ Fed, state govts urged to back agric sector

◦ Fed, state govts urged to back agric sector

By Adebisi Onanuga

The federal and state governments have been urged to increase their support for  agricultural sector to generate more employment  and boost foreign earning.

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of F.A Feedmills and Farms, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Otunba Fatai Adebayo Soewu gave the advice while speaking with reporters at his farm.

The country can earn good foreign exchange from agriculture if properly harnessed., he said.

Otunba Soewu lamented:  ”It is sad that with our good weather conditions and fertile land we have not been able to produce enough for ourselves not to talk of exporting to other countries to generate good foreign exchange and boost our economy.”

He argued  that  it is imperative that this critical sector is properly funded because of its capacity to help reduce unemployment, boost food production and foreign earnings for  the country.

The renowned agriculturist urged the youths to embrace agriculture, saying that it is one of the lucrative sectors of the economy that could be explored to reduce the problem of unemployment bedeviling the country.

He said: “ This is why any government willing to reduce unemployment, eradicate poverty and boost food production can’t do without creating an enabling environment and give enormous supports to the farmers.”

Otunba Soewu said these supports could be in form of provisions of no interest loans, allocation of lands for poultry and fishery , provision of tractors either for free or a at subsidised price for cultivation of lands, provision of improved seedlings, good access roads among others to encourage the youths to take to agriculture.

The  farmer also expressed confidence that the country could leverage on the abundant opportunities in agriculture sector to boost food production and to reduce unemployment among the youths.

Recalling his beginning as a farmer, Otunba Soewu said he started as a supplier of raw materials such as maize, sorghum,ground nut cakes, soya beans meal, fish meal, bone meal, oyster shells among others for production of poultry feeds to the farmers within Ijebu and Ogun State at large.

He said following the growth of the business, he decided to set up a feed mill in 1998, and was buoyed further and set up a farm with particular interests in poultry, piggery and fishery.

Otunba Soewu said the farm which took off with 18 workers in 1998 now has over 300 workers making their living on the farm while also contributing their quota to the economic growth  and the development of the country.

Though he diversified into other businesses such as oil and gas  as well as production of bottled waters, he said the setting up of all these businesses were made possible and wholly financed from proceeds and profits generated from his agricultural enterprise.

He said, in spite of  his background as an accountant, having graduated in Accountancy from the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Ogun State which would have availed him an opportunity of being a professional in accounting field,  he decided to identified with farmers and took advantage of the opportunity in agricultural sector as a result of which he became an employer of labour.

Otunba Soewu said he decided to share his personal story and experience to  encourage  unemployed youths to embrace agriculture not just to boost food production but to reduce unemployment and  poverty in the country.

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