D’banj, others seek 750,000 young agricultural entrepreneurs - agriculture Business and development

Singer D’banj, has endorsed a campaign calling on the youths to explore the entrepreneurship option which agro-business avails them.

The Kokomaster, who now refers to himself as the “Kokofarmer,” counselled that in agric business,

“youths do not have to suffer to earn a living”.

He said from farming to processing and packaging or marketing, youths have to find what their talent is and use it to make money for themselves.

The campaign is to, among other things, change public perception about agriculture so that the entire value chain can be recognised as an attractive and viable opportunity for agro-business, job creation for Africa’s young people and improved livelihood for small-scale farmers.

According to promoters, the campaign is in line with the African Union’s declaration of 2014 as the year of agriculture and food security, where leaders are expected to review their agricultural investment commitments at the next AU Summit slated for June 2014.

“When I was coming here, some people asked why I was wearing a suit to promote farming and I told them that it is such negative views of farming that I and others will work to change. I want to tell youths that a farmer can wear a Rolex and drive a Bentley,”

he said.
The Kokofarmer, who is marking his tenth year as a performing artiste this year, enjoined the young people present to take a cue from Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, who made his money partly through agriculture.

“Five years ago, I started Koko Holdings and I want the youths to see that I have already started. Please, my dear youths, we can do it. We should take a cue from Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote. He made his money partly through agriculture – not oil.  I will also be producing Koko Bread made from cassava, just to practically support government’s drive to bring youths into agriculture,” he emphasised.

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He used the opportunity to formally launch his Koko Ijebu garri, one of his innovative agricultural products, and harped on the opportunity availed young people by the AU’s present stance on agriculture. D’banj also stated that it provides opportunity for Nigeria to reverse budgetary cuts and improve a vital sector on which the majority of Nigerian citizens depend.

“This is why when I was with the minister of Agriculture Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina and he told me of the Nagro-preneur venture of government which is targeted at raising 750,000 young agricultural entrepreneurs, I accepted to be an ambassador for the project,” he said.

Government aims to raise these young farmers by creating an enabling environment with interventions like provision of land, financing and mechanised equipment.

Also speaking, Senator Gbenga Kaka lamented that N28bn out of the N35bn in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture’s budget is meant for the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja, leaving a paltry N7bn capital expenditure for the development of agriculture in the entire country.

“It is not enough to have good blue print in the world. The best idea in the universe cannot be realised without funding. What we are having is bad leadership and the prevalence of leaders without conscience. Seeing that, it is time for you youths to take your destinies in your hands.

“For those who are economists here, they will agree that the factors of production are land, labour and capital. For labour we have over 160 million people in our country. For capital, at over $100 per barrel of oil, we are not in want of capital. We are not even lacking in management.

“The minister of Agriculture is a Nigerian, same for the thousands of Nigerian doctors overseas. What we are lacking is good leadership. We are battling to remove the land use act and we must remove it so that the land tenure system will not continue to hamper our agric sector,” the lawmaker said.

The director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission ( SEC), Aruma Oteh,on her part, stressed the place of agriculture in economic development.

Executive Director of ONE Africa, the initiators of the campaign, Dr. Sipho Moyo, stressed that the movement would work with legislators, civil society organisations and the public to urge African countries to commit increased budgetary allocations in agriculture, underpinned by sound, strategic targeted policy reforms that would expand economic opportunities in agriculture for millions of people.

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