Solve problem of insecurity, and see partnership with farmers bear fruit – Nwazulu

The Managing Director, and Chief Executive Officer, (CEO), Global M-Co-Soci Ltd, Farmer’s Empowerment, Mr. Abuchi Nwazulu, in this interview with JOHN OBA, urged the government to find a lasting solution to the security challenges so that the company’s partnership with farmers’ can bear fruits.

What really attracted you into the agricultural space?

I saw a lot of potential in the agriculture sector, and I discovered that Nigeria has not woken up as far as agriculture is concerned. For instance, in the cassava value chain, there are lots of by-products from cassava. Also, in the maize value chain including the guinea-corn value chain there is a lot of money along these value chains that can be generated by the Nigerian farmer or investor but unfortunately, people do not know about it nor do they have the idea. That was 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 by way of interventions.

Tell us about these interventions?

In Nigeria, we cultivate for personal consumption, but the idea of value addition is important as many of our farmers don’t process their produce hence there is a high rate of post-harvest losses. For instance, after planting a potato, then harvest, but most at times the potato gets rotten but if the farmers are sensitized and made to understand that the potato they have harvested can be processed by slicing them and processed into flour and also potato chips, this will help them preserve losses.

What has your company done to help farmers?

Basically, the first thing we do is to educate and sensitise them and let them understand that they have a business already. Let them see the dignity in the farm business they are doing because it is to make a profit and at the same time feed the nation. We also assist them with our farm machinery in order to make the cultivation of their crops less cumbersome.

How many farmers have benefitted from your company’s interventions?

We have empowered farmers in their numbers as a company. In Gombe State over 500 farmers have benefited from our empowerment, then in Adamawa State, the farmers are in their thousands, while in Taraba and Bauchi States, the benefiting farmers are 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 thereby helping to achieve food security that forms the core basis of our support.

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

RIPPMAN is just coming up, and we want to use their platform to reach out to other farmers across the country, and 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 support them also because without our support there may be problems in food production. Though the government is doing a lot for them, we also want to disabuse the minds of people, especially the youth, from always depending on the government. There is the need for the farmers to know that there are things they can do on their own and when you are doing what you are supposed to do, the government will do what they are supposed to do.

Like China with a population of about 2 billion, if they can achieve food security, how much more Nigeria with a lesser population? Hence we need to encourage our people to think out of the box to drastically reduce their dependence on government for everything. We also want to ensure that 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 agric space, Have your company benefited from government policies as it relates to ease of doing business?

As a company, we have not benefited from government policies, because we believe as an up-coming company that we must keep doing our best before expecting anything from the government. We are also being careful not to get involved in government politics. We are also careful so that some people in the system will not hijack some of our efforts.

So in the aspect of benefiting or what we have benefited, all we expect from the government is a conducive business environment and adequate security to allow our partnership with the farmers to bear fruits. Once this is done, the farmers will be able to expand their productivity and provide food for Nigerians than what we are seeing now.

Is insecurity a challenge to your company?

Definitely, and not only my business alone, but it’s also affects the farmers, buyers of farm produce, and it is a big problem, it is everybody’s challenge. We now see young people who were supposed to be on the farms moving to urban areas due to these security challenges. Therefore, insecurity remains a big threat to food production, availability and affordability. We as a company, sometimes get 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 the government to intervene in this issue.

Do you have any issue on tax payment?

On the issue of payment of tax, we are overburdened with payment of multiple taxes. Yes, we know the government is working to help Nigerian businesses, but we are paying too much tax and this is becoming burdensome, and at the end, the price of inputs becomes high. This is passed to the farmers, which is not supposed to be. That means the government through the back door is extracting the profit farmers are supposed to earn through tax on input companies. But if the government would effectively implement tax exemption for all input suppliers, this will go a long way to assist us.

How would you rate the Tinubu-led administration as far as food production is concerned?

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has a very good plan for Nigeria. For instance, on food production, the ministry has been doing a lot. Nigeria has fertile land; the major issue is for the government to end the problem of insecurity, and up its support to farmers, ends the problem of middle men that cause price increase on food items. If that is done definitely there would be a difference. And as a company, we have our track records, and the government can go on and investigate what we say and give us a trial, and we will bring the result.