Adetoyi Olabode calls for special land clearing programme to boost Nigerian agriculture, reduce insecurity

Chief Executive Officer of Value Nutrients Ingredients Limited, Dr. Adetoyi Ezekiel Olabode has called on the federal government to implement a special programme for land clearing.

Olabode made the call at Nairametrics’ June 2024 Industry Outlook Webinar tagged: ‘From Farm to Market; The rising cost of Farm Produce in Nigeria; Causes, Impact and Solutions’

He emphasized the importance of collaboration between state governors and the federal Ministry of Agriculture to achieve effective land utilization.

“Driving from Lagos to Ekiti, one can see vast unused lands on either side,” Olabode said. “Clearing these lands would reduce insecurity, as open, cultivated areas are less prone to criminal activities.

In other countries, flying over the landscape reveals extensive fields of wheat, maize, and sunflower. This is what we need in Nigeria—surplus food production, job creation, and reduced poverty.”

Need to engage youth in agriculture

Olabode also highlighted the need to engage youth in agriculture by providing proper training and equipment.

He noted that providing stipends until the harvest is ready is essential adding that Cassava matures in 8 to 11 months, cocoa in 2.5 to 3 years, and oil palm similarly.

On the livestock front, Olabode pointed out that Lagos consumes 13,000 cows per day, each costing around N600,000.

“By cultivating grasses needed for livestock, we can support the cattle industry and reduce costs,” he suggested.

Addressing these agricultural challenges, according to Olabode, will alleviate social issues and create jobs.

Hectares of arid wood crops

Olabode noted that Nigeria has over 35 million hectares of arid wood crops.

He said that with 36 states plus Abuja and 774 local governments, there is a vast potential to utilize these resources effectively.

“Each local government or state could focus on two crops they are particularly good at, similar to how Malaysia handles oil palm,” he suggested.

“In 1982, we provided Malaysia with oil palm seedlings. If we adopt a similar approach now, it will be highly beneficial.”

Stressing the urgency of the matter, he added, “It’s never too late to start. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the second-best time is now. I anticipated this situation when we began paying lease payments to agriculture. Unfortunately, the budget allocated to agriculture, both at the federal and state levels, is still insufficient.”

Historical agricultural strengths

Olabode argued that agriculture should be prioritized alongside security in Nigeria.

Pointing out historical agricultural strengths, he noted that in some Southwestern states, the old Western region thrived on cocoa and oil palm. He added that the Midwest region focused on rubber and oil palm while the North have ginger and groundnut.

“We should return to those days, starting from the local government level and scaling up to the state level,” he said.

He noted that the government at all levels need to encourage higher yields, mobilize financing for better yields, and open up more land for cultivation.

According to him, there’s no reason why a youth should have to struggle to open up one hectare of land.

“Governments should invest in land clearing and provide more tractors. They should put the youth to work, offer them stipends, purchase their produce, and store it in strategic grain reserves,” he said.

Post-harvest losses

He called for increased investment in processing to reduce the high post-harvest losses which according to him currently exceeding 45%.

“Imagine producing goods and losing almost half of them. We need to add value to our produce to prevent such losses,” he said.


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