There are several aspects of Peter Osalor’s life that gets interesting when you get closer to this Chartered Accountant, writer and tax expert. He has written over 22 books and many adopted by the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) on entrepreneurship. Osalaor has a new project in a book form called the “The Farmer Entrepreneur” which will teach the comers and existing farmers the rudiments of entrepreneurship. He shares his dream on Agriculture in Nigeria with Olaoluwakitan Babatunde
Nigerian farmers went backward in the last 50 years. In the 60s and 70s, we were leading in Agriculture. We were one of the leading exporters in cocoa, palm oil, groundnut, cotton and hides and skin. We were deeply involved in agriculture before oil discovery in Oloibiri. In those days, agriculture was giving us 70 per cent of our foreign exchange earnings. Now it is just two per cent. Only oil and gas give us 95 per cent. In Africa, farming died with the discovery of oil wells in both deep sea and onshore and now in the 21st century the oil is no longer lucrative business, it has lost value and it is dying a slow death. People are looking for alternative sources of energy. Our biggest customer, the United States, now wants to sell oil because they have plenty reserves and much more. We are in trouble, so we don’t have any alternative than to fall back to agriculture because we don’t even have the capital to go back to mining. In mining alone, we are also losing $53 billion annually because we are not mining. All the steel complexes are dead. Ajaokuta, Aladja, the iron Ore. The easiest way that can help us now is agriculture, through farmers led entrepreneurial revolution.
Going Back to Farming
Farming became a hobby and no more a business. But in those days of the 70s, farming was our business; we had marketing employer of labour but we left it and went into subsistence farming.
The minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh has always stated that we spend abound $35 billion on food imports annually. That is very sad. If Nigeria is doing it, other African countries are following suit. We just need to go back to our roots.
Farming Will Pay More Money Than Oil…
The previous PDP government initiated some programmes led by Adewumi Adesina who is now the President of AfDB when they started doing this value chain. From cassava we were getting bread. With this new government they have also started the Green Alternative. They are now focusing on farming as a business where youths are being encouraged to go into farming. Farmers should now be looked at as businessmen to earn foreign exchange. Farming will pay more money than oil business. That is why I have taken the pains to write a book called “The Farmer Entrepreneur” and how we can transform the farmer into an Entrepreneur. They will think like entrepreneur, do business plans, form strategic alliances export the products and make the much needed foreign exchange by sending to Europe and the United States while also getting into the Asian markets. That is very possible. The book I have written will be launched on the 22nd of August at the Yar Adua Cultural and event Centre in Abuja where we will also organise a round-table conference. The main discussions for that day shall be transforming the farmer into an entrepreneur that should become a national policy were you take farming as a real business.
I am going to take the book around; the states and farming cooperatives all through the nooks and crannies of this country because it is a national issue and the book is so loaded that it can be used in schools as textbooks. I will go through the NUC. They have approved my books in the past. This is my 22nd book and most of my books are approved by NUC. I will go back to them and I am sure they will be glad because there are no books on farming entrepreneur. I am sure this is the first in Nigeria.
Impediments to Successful Farming…
Our youths are not serious. They think that farming is dirty and want to go into music, the entertainment industry. They forget farming is life. Every day we eat from the farm. The youths should start taking farming as a more lucrative business than oil and gas. If you go to Europe where I lived for over 30 years, Sainsbury and most of the big supermarkets are into farming. Most former leaders of the West are farmers.
In Nigeria, our former Heads of States are farmers. The youths must follow them. They are getting old, who will they hand over the farms to? We must now focus on the youths, the unemployed graduates. There is a programme the Federal Government just introduced called “Empower”. It is a super programme to encourage the youths to go into farming. With farming there would be food and income security.