THE PROSPECT OF AN AGRICULTURIST
Prospect can be defined as the possibility that something good might happen in the future or the likelihood of being successful. The term Agriculture has a broad definition and it is not only the science of cultivating of soil, producing crops and raising livestock but starts from planning to the point of bringing products to the consumer. It also involves production of fibers for industries, processing of farm produce, packaging and marketing, distribution and sales of farm products. Therefore, an Agriculturist is someone that adds value along the chain of production starting from planning to cultivation, harvesting, transporting, processing, packaging, storage, raising of livestock and marketing to the door step of the consumer. The function of an Agriculturist also involves bringing information and advice to farmers, managing soil, breeding, crop protection and environmental sustainability. Agricultural products include food (meat, fish, milk, fruits, crops, eggs, and honey), fibre, fuel, furniture, textile, cosmetics, ornamentals and pharmaceuticals.
A professional Agriculturist is persons that practice Agriculture following full course of study. An Agriculturist can also be called a Farmer.
Nigeria has over 80% of its land arable but unfortunately less than 40% is cultivated despite the country’s teeming population and level of unemployment (Fatokun 2015). The Agric sector in Nigeria presently is opening up and improving rapidly attracting investors in the country. Nigeria has now become a country of ease of doing business. In the 60s, Nigeria’s main source of foreign exchange was to export crops like cocoa, palm oil, groundnut, cotton, etc thereby contributing larger portion to gross domestic product of the nation and this really contributed to the economy growth. Each region was known for a particular agricultural produce; Northern region was known as groundnut pyramid; Western region for cocoa, one of the world best commercial viable seed; Eastern region was the home of palm nut and cassava and all these have made Nigeria the beauty of Africa ( Ojong and Anam 2018). Crude oil has now come at the detriment of Agriculture sector. There must be a change of mindset from all of us from the way we view Agriculture. Agriculture is not a developmental activity rather it is a business. Everything attached to Agriculture is a business (seed, animals, fertilizer, planning, logistics, transport, storage etc).
Rice: The rice industry presently is rising to its potential everyday in Nigeria. Rice is an increasingly important crop in Nigerian rendering satisfaction to stomach and purses of the growing population. According to Professor Osinbajo during the commissioning of the #10 billion WACOT Rice processing mill in 2017, WACOT Rice mill which is reportedly the largest parboiled rice mill in Africa, is also the first rice plant in Nigeria with power co-generation facility which will generate electricity from rice husks. Rice consumption rate is now said to be at a staggering 7.9million tonnes and production rate has increased to 5.8 tonnes per annum. This calls for expansion of its production capacity. The production of our local rice must increase. Some states like Niger, sokoto, Enugu, Ebonyi, Kano, Ogun etc are now into massive rice production and if we have more farmers into production, this will help to ban importation of rice and we will be assured of consuming quality rice. Also, crops like maize, sorghum and millet are inadequate and are always scarce at some season. So there is need for more farmers to go into production. There should also be increase production of crops like cassava, tree crops, cotton etc
Poultry: Nigeria poultry industry has been rapidly expanding in recent years and is one of the most commercialized subsectors of Nigerian agriculture (USDA 2013). This can be explained by the fact that poultry has many advantages over other livestock. Poultry birds are good converters of feed into useable protein in meat and eggs. Poultry meat is also very tender and acceptable to consumers irrespective of their religious beliefs. Their production cycle is also short. Eggs are more affordable for the common person than other source of animal protein (Teise et al., 2015).Poultry products demands in Nigeria have remained on the high side far above supply. This has brought about the constant importation of frozen foods and ban has been imposed on it because of different means of preservation and storage which is not healthy for consumer. This should create opportunities for people to invest more in poultry. Biogas
In dairy production, quantities of milk are being wasted by herdsmen because there is no adequate processing system. This also calls for more attention and creates avenue to invest.
Fish farming: demand for fish is high presently in Nigeria. Its nutritional benefit is very important especially Catfish which helps to meet protein needs and boost intake of vitamins and healthy fats and fatty acids. It is also low in calories and fat. It boosts intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which helps to reduce heart diseases. You don’t need mass of land to start, it can either be at your backyards or compounds and there is ready market for it.
Piggery: Presently, there is high demand for pork meat and other products from pigs which is always on the increase. Biogas can also be produced from the dung.
Processing and marketing: agricultural produce can be processed and packaged then create a marketing plan for it. It is estimated that about 20-40% of the yearly harvest is lost during processing. The primary cause is lack of efficient harvesting techniques.
You can also be a major supplier and distributor of Agricultural inputs like fertilizers, feedstuffs, seeds, pesticides, herbicides, (cages, debeaking machine, defeathering machine, incubators, cutting machine, etc.
Warehousing: storage means is not up to standard. Most of the crops are lost to physical damage caused by insects, bacteria or fungus. You can get space and facility that can be used for storage of farm produce.
Transporting: this can be from village to cities to prevent perishable products from getting spoilt and also easy access to consumers. Also, transportation of poultry products out of the farm is important.
Hiring services: you can invest in buying and hiring agricultural implements like crop farming equipments (tractors, harvesters, planters, etc), poultry equipments (crates, debeakers, etc).
Advisory services: planning, consultancy, diagnosis and provision of solution can be rendered. Extension workers can also train farmers on modern technologies.
Employment: more jobs will be available for youth in the country.
We all must develop an Agricultural sector that is competitive, productive and modernized.
Dr Alaba Bukola
Farmergiant Nigeria Limited
THE PROSPECT OF AN AGRICULTURIST