Mr Uwem Umoh, Managing Director, UM-MICO, has expressed confidence in the Federal Government’s ability to move the agriculture sector beyond food sufficiency to becoming a huge foreign exchange earner.
Umoh, an expert in fabrication of equipment for processing agricultural produce, told the Nigeria News Agency on Friday in Port Harcourt that the initiative would go a long way to help farmers to grow.
He said the Federal government’s initiatives to help small scale farmers maximise profits through use of locally sourced machines was a milestone achievement in the sector.
“Thanks to this administration, most youths have now chosen to make reasonable livelihoods from the huge business opportunities in the agriculture value chain which is now positively impacting on local agriculture equipment fabrication business.
“In the past our youths were carried away by cars and money gifts in the guise of empowerment from politicians, these gifts were usually accompanied by short-lived appreciation as they were not profitably utilised.
“Since everything in our country is tied to politics of godfatherism, little or no attention was given to agriculture as funds allocated to the sector were largely being diverted to benefit only the portfolio farmers among the political class.
“Today, the economic diversification of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is real, we in the local agriculture equipment production sector can attest to it.
“For us, our processing machines are affordable, easy to use and to maintain, above all our machines are standardised and makes produce readily acceptable for export,’’ he said.
He said that the quality of each machine determined its cost.
“For oil palm processing, our machines ranged from N3 million to N1.6 million and even N900,000 depending on its sophistication in terms of capacity, quality and quantity in demand,’’ he said.
Umoh therefore, applauded the Federal Government for enlightening farmers in the Niger Delta region on ways of embracing agriculture.
“In this region, organisations like Partnerships Initiatives in the Nigeri Delta (PIND), have been supporting investors in the oil palm agriculture value chain by providing up to 50 per cent counterpart funding, allowing investors to cater for only 50 per cent.
“Also, very supportive is the Anchor Borrowers Scheme and others initiated to boost agriculture and encourage agriculture business in the region,’’ he added.
On his business challenges, the equipment fabricator said poor electricity was hampering growth in the sector.
“Our major challenge as equipment fabricators is electricity, we really don’t maximise profits in this business since we run our own diesel engines on daily bases.
“Almost 60-70 per cent profit realisation goes back to fueling and engine maintenance,’’ he said.
Umoh pleaded with the Federal Government to, as matter of concern, focus on electricity so as to actualise relative growth in the agriculture sector.
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