•Build equipment for us, farmers’ leader urges Innoson, others


It is said that a hungry man is an angry man. And when a man has been reduced to the point of not being able to feed himself or provide for his family, he becomes a serious risk to society.

To address the sad condition of Nigeria presently with regards to hunger and spiraling unemployment, a renowned farmer, Chief Ebere Orji Odi, has called for more investment in agriculture. He particularly made a case for the production of farming equipment in the country to reduce cost.

Indeed, Chief Odi, who is the vice president, Mega Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (MERFAN) and CEO, Ebere West Farm Ltd is on the same page with Irene Rosenfeld, who said: “It’s clear that agriculture, done right, is the best means the world has today to simultaneously tackle food security, poverty and environmental degradation.”

Odi believes that with the right policies and assistance from government at various levels, organisations and individuals, Nigerian farmers have the wherewithal to feed the country and even export food to other countries.

Odi, who is also the vice president (South East), Maize Growers Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (MAGPAMAN), believes that if things are done properly with regards to agriculture, many of the jobless youths will be employed, thereby reducing the socio-economic challenges facing the country.

In view of this, Odi has written a letter to Chief Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma, founder and CEO of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing, Nigeria’s first indigenous automobile manufacturing company, urging him to build farm implements to boost food production in the country.

In the letter, Odi  said one of the causes of poverty in Nigeria and Africa is that farmers do not have enough and adequate implements that enhance farming activities and yield.

According to him, “if a farmer can do 100 hectares without implements, he can do 1000 hectares with implements.

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“Without feeding our citizens as a country, there is no way hardship, corruption and other challenges will go.

“We need machinery like tractors, planters, harvesters and many more. Agriculture has millions of vacancies every year.

“Over three million Nigerians graduate from higher institutions every year but few percentage of them get jobs from government and private sectors. Over 70% of school leavers have no jobs and that gives room for kidnapping, yahoo – yahoo, prostitution and robbery, among other vices.

“We are appealing to our brother, the chairman, Innoson Group, and the governments, both at federal and state levels, to assist us with farm implements or equipment. The production or manufacturing of agricultural equipment in the country should be mandatory or compulsory. Farm implements should be manufactured here in Nigeria to reduce the cost and provide easy access to farmers.

“Before the existence of crude oil, agriculture was the mainstay of the country’s economy. The South East was known for palm oil, South West had cocoa while the North boasted of groundnut, among other things.

“We are pleading to you to consider us in your investment. A lot of our brothers are scattered all over the country and other parts of the world, in search of greener pastures, while we can create a lot of jobs in Nigeria.

“My company, Eberewest Farms Ltd, harvested over 200 metric tons of cassava last year manually. Most of them was sold on credit to pig farmers because of lack of machines for processing.

“A hungry man is an angry man. I believe our request will receive urgent action for the good of the country.”

Odi disclosed that during harvest last year, they sent many cassava tubers to his state governor, Francis Nwifuru, adding: “This year by the grace of God, we are ready to harvest more, if assistance is given to us and others. I believe we will do more and create more jobs through agriculture.”

Chief Odi also lamented over insecurity in parts of the country, saying it is inhibiting food production in the country.