The National Coordinator of Nigeria Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS) Mr Retson Tedheke has said that the Nigerian agricultural sector which has the potential of generating $250 billion is largely untapped.
Tedheke said the government and the financial institutions have not been helpful to their group in terms of financial support, instead the group had grown through crowd funding.
Briefing journalists in the farm premises covering about 3000 hectares in Ga’ate, Nasarawa State, Tedheke said the farm which completes 3 years, had maintained an average of N1 billion gross turnover every year for the past 3 years.
He said to support the funding of the farm, it created an Application called Ga’atevest which allows everyone to invest with any amount of money into the farm.
Tedheke however, said there was need for the government to focus more on agriculture investment in order to engage the teeming youths, and grow the economy.
“More than 50 per cent of our population is in rural Nigeria, if you count the major urban hubs, you are only counting about 40 per cent of our population, it means that rural Nigeria that have more of our population, have less of access to infrastructure, have less of government structures and support.
So we as a cooperative looked the problem and asked ourselves do you solve a problem that is not going to go away? And the only way to solve a problem that is not going to go away is to use what you have.
It is madness that Holland with less than 30 million people generates in excess of €100 billion every year from agriculture, Australia with about 25 million people have more cows than human being and generate $60 billion from dairy annually.
“The first 4 years of President Muhammadu Buhari, he earned $105 billion from crude oil, the amount of money Holland earns in a year from agriculture.
“So the solution to our problem in right in our face, and so for 3 years, the farm has been focused on how do we make this farm a part of Nigerian solution, so in 3 years we not not have gotten to where we want to go to, however from planting maize in 2017 to planting multiple crops in 2018, and in 2019 we went into processing, now we have the capacity of producing 2 trailer load of rice per day”, he said.
Speaking further, Tedheke said the farm which started with N1.5 million loan, uses local technologies like wood, zinc, others to build factories inside the farm.
“We also have a flour mill where we use local technology like wood, zinc, mat, grass we can build factories, because the concept of technology must not be foreign.
“We started the farm with N1.5 million loan, but however over the last 3 years, we done on the average of N1 billion every year of gross turnover”, he said.
On funding, Mr Tedheke said “we have not recieved any financial support from the government or anybody, we have not received any financial support from any bank in Nigeria, we have written application, we have done paper work, we even borrowed collateral to come and guarantee them but all to no avail.
“So, the outline for us has been growing the project and growing the process, growing the system using available opportunities, we have made use of crowd funding to make progress.
“Government is not doing enough, infrastructures are missing, access to machinery are not available, the road leading from the express to this farm was constructed by the farm, we are providing electricity and constructing our own dams without government support.
“We have developed a mobile application (Ga’atevest) where we are telling Nigerians that all of them can now become part owners of the farm”.
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