As you are reading this article, I am sure you will understand why a lot of projects fail in Nigeria though millions of dollars invested because you might have come across a failed Agricultural project in your community.
Maybe as you are reading this, there is an idle tractor in your compound or your neighbour had parked a brand new rice harvester idle for over 3 years now. I remember around 2012 I visited a friends house and over 23 bags of NPK fertilizer was wasting in their warehouse while farmers in rural areas were begging a bag to boost crops yield.
We have massive/expansive greenhouse technology laying idle in some communities in Nigeria and these same greenhouses are effectively used in developed countries like Israel, China, and the US among others.
Last year, I took a training on Greenhouse Productivity and I was shocked how on earth we still struggle to cultivate hundreds of hectares of farmland only to produce below efforts employed. Why in advance countries, the greenhouse has helped farmers with less farmland to produce more food than typical African farmer with vast arable land.
Aside from greenhouse technology, we have gigantic poultry and pig pens idle in our country today, we have underused tractors. Government green reserve houses are empty, nobody is investing in food processing and few who try, fold up without recovering their capital employed.
What could the killing factors?
I did a careful survey on this matter via my social media channels and was able to gather data from experienced individuals in the field of agriculture in Africa and translate the data into a readable format for you.
By reading this article, you will have a better understanding of agriculture in Nigeria and it will help you make an informed decision before investing money any agricultural project.
This data will equally guide our Nigerian government too because the feedback is from the masses and possible solutions are written out too.
NUMBER ONE: Lack Of Accurate Data On The Right Project To Be Executed, Where And When.
Data is life. Without accurate data, the right project will be executed wrongly and it means automatic failure not minding the amount of money, energy, expertise employed on such project.
For example; I conducted research for a client who was writing an academic project for his doctorate program about poultry, fish, maize, and, soybean farmers in Northcentral Nigeria.
The project was to understand their challenges and the tools they employ in carrying out their farming activities. I needed a minimum of 400 farmers to answer the questionnaire for me and duration for the exercise was 7 working days.
I was to cover Benue State. Accessing accurate data of poultry and fish farmers was a huge challenge because there was no regulatory body that has such information. I had to visit farms directly and I took me more than 7 working days meeting individual farmers, introducing myself, and begging them to answer the questionnaire.
I travelled to rural areas to meet maize and soybean farmers. The data I gathered can help anyone to invest wisely in agriculture without losing money, I knew many farmers needed financial help, those that needed inputs and communities that needed off-takers of their farm produce.
For example; If you as an individual or government body want to invest into soybean oil processing, is unwise to build a gigantic factory in Lagos when your source of raw materials is in a remote community.
Knowing WHEN, WHERE, and WHICH project to invest in will help you invest in the right agricultural project but if set it up in the wrong community, your project will fail.
If you want to build a tomato processing company, visit a community that is into commercial tomato production and build your factory there and Kano is the largest tomato processing State in Nigeria.
Building a tomato processing plant in Abuja is unwise. Building an orange juicy processing plant in Benue State is wise because oranges wasting there in millions of tonnes yearly.
NUMBER TWO: Access To Loan/Credit
Commercial agriculture is capital intensive therefore, anyone that is interested in making money from agriculture must have reasonable finance to birth his dream to life.
I have been on this table too. One of the major challenges hindering rural farmers from embracing modern agriculture is finance. I have worked with hundreds of rural farmers and I see how they struggle with digging hectares of farmland to plant crops.
For livestock-based farmers, the cost of feeding, and maintaining animals alone push a lot of people out of business. They might start with the intention to expand, but the cost of managing such projects will kill their dreams and throw them out of business.
Solution: All financial institutions should be mandated by our federal government to lend a certain amount of money to agricultural projects within the country. Agricultural loan should be given to rural farmers directly not just political farmers who already have the financial capacity to invest in agriculture.
NUMBER THREE: Lack Of Industrialization
Industrialization is a something Africa at large should invest it. Nigeria is the largest cassava producing country in the world but as at the time of writing this, we still import cassava related products as common as cassava bread flour.
Our government and other wealthy Nigerians prefer investing in building hotels outside our continent Africa. If such monies are invested in tomato, yam, rice, and cassava processing, farmers will be encouraged to produce more.
If I should invest in rice project and a company residing in Nigeria is ready to off-take from my farm, farming will be fun and expansion to increase production will be possible.
For example, my father has an orange orchard in Benue State of over 2,000 matured stems with massive productivity yearly. We still have more idle land, but nobody is willing to plant more orange trees because there is no market for its fruits during harvest.
Rural farmers cannot invest in processing, they do not have the needed capital. And without processing companies, post-harvest losses are inevitable, and that leads to failure in most projects.
Solution: Government at all level should invest in the processing of farm produces by building plants in the right communities. Business individuals are not left out, investing in processing is the best you can do to serve the country from food insecurity.
NUMBER FOUR: Poor Transport System From Farm To The Market
Lack of basic social amenities like Road, Water, and Electricity is another contributory factor while most agricultural projects never survival in Nigeria. Though we still import food worth US$50 billion in Africa last year (2019), I can guarantee you that food that wasted in our rural areas equally worth that amount.
As I type this some rural communities in Benue State and Probably Kogi have thousands of fresh yams stored in their farms, they are ready to sell but there is no market.
Some merchants know about the availability of this food in such communities, but poor road network has built a barrage on their way therefore, accessing this food become impossible.
Transportation of farm produce within Nigeria is hard. I have been into Agro commodities trading business for some time now and transportation is our greatest challenge.
Solutions: It is the duty of our government to provide basic social amenities for us. If good roads network link rural communities to urban dwellers, the cost of transportation will be less and food will be moved easily across states of the federation. As farmers, all we need from our government is access to good road, power, and water.
NUMBER FIVE: Importation Of Similar Goods From Abroad
I had this ugly experience last year (2019) while distributing rice across 36 states of the federation. In my mini factory, I had a machine that would assist in removing all heavy objects out of our rice, other machines were to clean/polish the rice.
Production was at small capacity but the quality of our rice was superb and could compete with foreign imported rice because it was 100% stone/husk free and sweet when cooked.
Now, some Nigerians told us in the face that “Eating Nigeria rice is not on their agenda” they prefer foreign rice.
Neglecting homegrown food is another factor that leads to the failure of some agricultural projects. We have some Nigerians that prefer foreign frozen chicken meat than our local breed broilers.
NUMBER SIX: Poor Storage Facilities
Around 2012 when my mother was into the storage of yams during harvest seasons so she can resell offseasons, basically she will purchase 550 tubers and store. The reason is simple, 50 tubers and most time more must waste due to poor storage facilities we had them.
Without good storage facilities, fresh fruits waste in thousands of tonnes daily in remote areas. Grains like rice, maize, millet, sorghum, beans, soybean, and groundnut waste due to poor storage facilities.
Solution: Government and other wealthy individuals should invest storage facilities and build them closer to farmers. I know farmers will be happy to use such facilities for a fee.
NUMBER SEVEN: Management And Absentee Farming
Lack of proper farm management is the fundamental reason while most agricultural projects fail in Nigeria. I have massive unproductive farms today because the owners couldn’t get skilled hands to manage the business activities of the farm.
Solution: Our youths studying Agriculture in higher institutions should be taught more of practicals so we can have competent hands to employ when it comes to managing sophisticated projects on farms.
Individuals who own farms in far communities should always create time to visit and see how daily activities are carried out.
NUMBER EIGHT: Ease Of Doing Business
According to world bank Ease Of Doing Business ranking, Nigeria came 26 in Africa and 146 in the world as of 2019. In Africa, Mauritius, Rwanda, Morocco, and Kenya top the chart.
Setting up a small business in Nigeria is not easy, from multiple taxations from Federal, State, and even host communities. It becomes very difficult for small business owners with limited cash to operate successfully in our environment.
Insecurity rate is high and a lot of farms are destroyed by Fulani herdsmen which scare away potential investors from investing in remote communities.
Solution: Government should give tax breaks to agricultural firm and provide security to our investments.
Other factors that lead to the failure of agricultural projects are,
- Lack of adequate technical know-how on the part of farmers and intending farmers
- Societal and moral decadence
- Lack of professionalism and expertise. For big projects, Nigerians do not trust local professional they mainly rely on foreigners
- Get rich quick syndrome
Those that want to invest in agriculture should know that it is not a get rich quick business venture. Give your seeds time and they’ll produce edible fruits.