A graduate farmer from Edo, Nosa Amayo, has called on Federal and State Governments, to open up farmlands in every local government area in the country for youths to farm on.
Amayo, who is the President of the Edo Cooperative Farmers Agency, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Asaba recently.
He argued that government’s current efforts to revolutionise agriculture in the country, would achieve more if governments opened farmlands for the youth to cultivate instated of granting them agricultural loans.
He said that with the N250, 000 currently given to graduate farmers as loans through the Bank of Agriculture for graduate farmers would not achieve much.
“In my state for instance, you need N110, 000 to hire a bulldozer to open up a 2 hectare virgin land in a day. You have to pay the operator additional N10, 000.
“You also have to provide 200 litres of diesel amounting to N32, 000 at the rate N160 per litre for the machine to work for eight hours.
“You find out that you will spend over N150, 000 out of the N250, 000 loan just in a day, if you want to plant cassava, for instance.
“If you want to go into the real farming that most of us desire, the remaining amount can’t take you anywhere through the planting season,’’ he said.
The president of the agency said that the country would fare better in agriculture if governments opened up farmlands and supply farmers with inputs such as fertilizers, feeds, stems and herbicides.
“Government should do all these and after the harvest, remove the cost of production and give us our profit,’’ he said.
According to him, the first experience his cooperative society had with a bank almost discouraged him and his colleagues from farming.
“Eleven young graduates, including me, formed a cooperative society and went into fishery.
“We, at a point, needed some money to complete feeding our fish, but the Bank of Agriculture refused to assist,’’ he said.
According to him, some bank officials in the country preferred giving agricultural loans to business men and politicians, who in return, offered them gratifications and refuse to repay.
He added: “I believe that if this approach is adopted, Nigerian youths will embrace agriculture fully.
“When we produce surplus food, there will be food security in the country as well as raw materials for industries that will provide employment for our youths. (NAN)