NISA HOSTS RUDEP AS, EXCURSION TOUR ROUNDS OFF AT ILERO
Agriculture in recent time has gone beyond the usual primitive practices. The responsibility of sustaining food production with the increasing population has been a serious challenge to many researchers, corporate bodies, agribusiness owners and the government. But if you think Nigeria can never overcome her challenges of food production, then you are probably wrong because until you see an agro-processing company with vision and core competencies in cassava value chain, extensive market coverage within and outside Nigeria for agro products and lot more like Niji Institute of Sustainable Agriculture (NISA), you will never believe.
In what looks like dream come true for most indigenous farmers in Oyo State, the Rural Development Programme (RUDEP) department, took the farmers from the different zone; Oyo, Oke Ogun and Ogbomoso to the Niji Institute of Sustainable Agriculture (NISA), Ilero, Oyo State on the 29th August 2018. Despite the deplorable state of the Oyo-Iseyin road for decades, the team still defiled all odds to visit the place, being a superb hub for agro-allied products and agro-processing, a vibrant niche full of experts that have been leveraging on the core competencies of agribusiness, agro-processing equipment design and fabrication, located on Km 5 Otu road, Ilero, Kajola local government area of Oyo State with over 5,000 acres fully cultivated with cassava and other edible crops. It is an extension of Niji Group which started in 1991 as a local startup with a commitment to resolve the rising challenges in Nigeria's agriculture with a special focus on types of machinery and agro-processing equipment design and fabrication. No doubt, the place has come to stay and has been making impact on the research and operational efficiency in; Farm Operation, Food and Agro-processing, Agric Machines and Agro Processing equipment fabrication, logistics and supply management (Agric Value Chain Management), Marketing and Agro Technology, Agriculture Management, Clean, Renewable and Sustainable energy, Pharmacology(Herbs Cultivation and processing). Also, the centre offers short courses for different categories of people in Agriculture practices such as ; The Future Enterprise Fellows (six months) for graduates of Universities, Polytechnic and Technical Colleges, Emerging Fellows (three months) for small holders farmers and semi-intensive farmers, the Global Executive (two months) for Capital investors and Specialized Course Track (two weeks) meant for refreshers course.
The team which was led by the Coordinator, Justice, Development and Peace Movement (JDPM) Oyo, Rev Father Gabriel Adeleke, Mr. Nathaniel Ajayi, Mr. Fakorede John amongst others with the farmers was hosted in an ultra-modern hall fully decorated with many learning aids and instructive cum comfort gadgets by some key officers such as ; The Chairman/CEO Niji Group, Mr. Kolawole Adeniji, General Manager, Mr. Olateju Kehinde, Programme Coordinator, Engineer Bello and the Head of Corporate, Strategy, Business Research and Development, Mr. Eseimieghan ThankGod who led the open speech. He said that African has been a subject of slavery and oppression for a while because they narrowed their thought to the old ways of practicing agriculture. According to him," an average Nigerian prefer to consume Shoprite Foods to ours even if it is of the same value because many agribusiness owners and farmers do not know how to package their products. A vast majority of countries like Israel, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Singapore, even South Africa do not have as many fertile lands like we do, yet, they stormed our market with their products because they know the right way. It is time Nigerians farmers stand up! Here in NISA, we have a core mission to serve and empower Africa through educating a generation of highly socially response and innovative Agripreneurs with an undying passion for the shared prosperity of Africa because we are the best. I challenge you all to get empowered so that you will stop being short of much profit on your hard labour on the farm" He said. In his word, the Programme Coordinator, Engineer Bello, assert that farmers need to embrace innovation in farming and agribusiness. "I know the majority of farmers here are active and in fact, labored all days to get a good output but you all need to know agriculture has gone beyond the primitive practice because of innovative techniques in recent time. We are talking about eco-organic farming, good networking skills for marketing farm produce in the local and international market as well as channelization of effort through the right way that can eliminate the problems of greedy middlemen in product distribution and so on. They are all important because as farmers, you deserved the best necessities of life not just to be living above average, you worked for it, and you suffer for it." He said.
Addressing the attendee, the Chairman/CEO Niji Group, Mr. Kolawole Adeniji, appreciated RUDEP’s visit and use the opportunity to shed light on the need why all stakeholders should make farming attractive to the youths.” Our society suffers most societal vices because of a high rate of unemployment. Our youths need to be properly channeled towards a proper training and mentoring. Look around here, we have largely arable land that can be fully utilized to cultivate different crops, yet, our youths prefer quick riches thinking success happens overnight. The problem of herdsmen in the Southwest would have been drastically reduced if many active youths are on the farm because it is going to be an eye for an eye, but how do you expect the elders to quench this ugly trade when their days are already numbered. We need active youths in agriculture now than ever.”
Mr. Kolawole, a graduate of Osogbo Technical College, and a native of the same State were trained as a mechanical engineer with a specialty in agricultural machinery and equipment fabrication has received numerous accolades in Nigeria and abroad for his contribution to the development of agribusiness however, bemoaned the poor attitude of the general public towards farming. “ Many people have come to assume that farming is a profession that is peculiar to the active poor people in the society. Maybe you don't know that during the colonial era, the colonialist makes our forefathers produce cash crops and a few others to suit their needs. Even after the colonial rule, many educational institutions ranging from the secondary schools and tertiary institutions have successfully brainwashed most students that agriculture is a profession meant for the lazy ones. Look here, I have been to nearly all the country of the world where agriculture is seriously practiced. They are well organized and make earn living comfortably contrary to our myopic view here. Farmers are not meant to be underrated in any form.” He further stated that many farmers have misplacement of priority on marketing strategies, making a vast majority to suffer a short of profit. He maintained that it is not about planting or cultivation of crops, weeding on the farm alone, rather it has a new skill so that the revenue will be strengthened.
The group was later conveyed round the factory unit which comprises of; An automated starch line section where industrial starch production is processed, automated fryer section where ground cassava that has been drained are dried and fried (gaari) with at least a tonne per day, flash dryers section where odorless fufu/cassava flour is dried, automated cassava peel fry dryers section where cassava peel is dried, dried and converted to powdery semi-finished industrial ingredient. Also, the Machineries section which comprises; A standard agro-processing equipment fabricators, ten brand new customized tractors, two brand new customized min tractors, four new disc plough, two new planters amongst others. The group then proceeded to the parent factory in the township to observe the sequential processes involved in the foods production and packaging strategies of fried gaari, odourless fufu, and starch as well as cassava flour which has been in Nigeria and international market in the last few years.
Without mincing a word, Nigeria is a country of many think tanks that can shape the country's glory in agriculture and other key areas. Unequivocally, the memories of the excursion will linger on in the heart of the farmers for years to come because their experience has exposed many mysteries behind their worries on farming for decades and more importantly because NISA remains one of the most vibrant hubs for agro-processing in empowering Africans and Nigerian farmers for a sustainable agriculture.
PROJECT PARTNERSHIP; RUDEP FACILITATES WEED MANAGEMENT EQUIPMENT FROM IITA TO BENEFICIARIES
Towards agricultural development and elimination of chemical infiltration on farm produce, a new technological innovation has been devised for weeding out unwanted plants on farms. In view of this, the Rural Development Programme department (RUDEP) had earlier on 10th September 2018 facilitated the pick up of an advanced weed management machine from the Cassava Weed Management Unit of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan to beneficiaries from Oke Ogun area of Oyo State.
Appreciating the JDPM, one of the beneficiaries, Ogunbode Opeyemi from Otu in the Itesiwaju LGA, said the machine will minimize unnecessary stress farmers undergo in the area of weeding out unwanted plants on the farm. According to him, "JDPM and IITA embodied a cooperative and impartial entity that caters for the youth’s interest in agriculture. They do not discriminate on the basis of colour, religions, and towns.I wished to commend their efforts and I promised to make use of these machine in order to enhance my agribusiness".
In his word, the second beneficiary, Adeyemi Adelere from Iseyin LGA, Iseyin, expressed his appreciation to JDPM who has been an active frontier in channeling youth's in agriculture. “ it has been a long time that I had to know JDPM because they used to visit some villages around here. So, I noticed their activities on encouraging farmers to be more productive. I thank God for my life because I never had a former education since childhood. But I didn't give up on my dream. So, I continued to work hard on the farm every day until God located me through JDPM. We are grateful to them” An Officer of RUDEP department, Mrs Awowole Agnes, charged other CADII trainees present at the venue of presenting the machines to learn from the beneficiaries. She added that creative mind, determination, discipline and prayer is essential to human survival on earth.
Speaking to the beneficiaries, the Head of Department, RUDEP, Dr Matthew Ojo, implored them to be careful in handling and maintaining the machines. He charged them not to relent in their effort at attaining greatness, adding that agriculture is a lucrative business for those in the right frame of mind. He further stated that the selection process was transparent and fair, adding that he expected the lucky beneficiaries to utilize the privilege.
The beneficiaries advised fellow youths at the venue (JDPM premises) to be more proactive, discover their potentials, get a mentor, encourage themselves and remain focus with prayer so that they will be proud of who they are. After all, we are all a product of the choices we made. While praising the impact of Catholic Development Initiative (CADII), they described the institute's contribution to the human capacity development and motivational source of inspiration to many youths who actively loved agribusiness. They vowed not to relent and keep evangelizing the good impact that JDPM is making in turning the myopic view of most youths from assuming that farming is only meant for the active poor and illiterates in the society.