Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former president, says the country has not been fair to farmers.
Obasanjo said researchers, financial institutions and the government have all conspired to victimise those who are in the business of farming in the country.
Daily Trust reported that the former president spoke in Lagos on Sunday while delivering his keynote address at the Agribusiness Investors’ Network organised by the Innovative Youth in Agriculture (I-Youth) in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Mastercard Foundation.
Obasanjo specifically decried the inability of farmers to access sustainable funding from financial institutions, saying the current double-digit interest rate given by banks is too prohibitive and cannot sustain any agric business.
He said driving agriculture to attain self-sufficiency as a nation should go beyond “tokenism”, saying the critical mass of the population must be involved.
The former president advocated for a deliberate effort to bring all stakeholders together to produce a new generation of farmers that would take over from the old generation, noting that most of the farmers today are too old.
According to Obasanjo, the youngest farmer in his village who happens to be his cousin is 75 years old, asks, “How do we replace them?”
“We need to see agriculture as being less of talk and more of action, timely action, right actions. Whatever you are doing in agriculture requires action and attention.
“Agriculture is a serious business that requires commitment, funding, reasonable cost, right and appropriate inputs, beginning from seeds. It requires stability and predictability,” Obasanjo added.