Ibrahim Sulaiman Nayaya is the Director of Cops Agro Limited, Abuja. Nayaya who read Business Studies and has a Master’s in Business Analysis from Hertfordshire University, London (2016), has taken to agriculture in Nigeria. He shares his experience in this interview.
Why are you into agriculture?
Our company deals in agricultural practices and exportation of produce. I must state that here that my boss, Alhaji Aminu Wada, who is the chairman of the firm, has encouraged me greatly, and ever since he has been very instrumental in my engagement with agriculture.
I have always been keen on agriculture; I have had the experience of the field from my mother who was into livestock and poultry farming. From the history of Nigeria, I found that before the exploration of oil, the country was largely dependent on agriculture. I also discovered that the sector was neglected after the discovery of oil. I am very passionate about plying the trade and as such I ventured into it with the hope that I will be able to invest in people and contribute towards the nation’s development.
Do you think with the present situation you can achieve this?
I am quite confident that I will be able to achieve my aim in the present situation in Nigeria ;although it takes patience and perseverance, and most importantly, consistency. There will always be obstacles in life, but the interesting bit is that we always overcome them.
What do you think makes agriculture unattractive to Nigerian youths?
Firstly, I don’t actually think youths dislike agriculture; rather, I believe they have not been exposed to the field properly, or a wrong image of what agriculture is about is being purported to them. I am saying this because, today, most youths see agriculture as a means to pursue government grants and not actually use them for the purpose they were meant for. Only few of them actually have a passion for agriculture: these are the business minded youths who aim to increase production and contribute towards nation building
What are the major challenges you face as an agriculture entrepreneur?
It is mostly on financing, inadequate coaches and programmes towards educating young agriculturists like myself on methods and processes to operate professionally. We often have to work very hard to acquire more knowledge, skills and experience.
The Nigerian Export Promotions Council (NEPC) has been doing well, but reinforcing that will by reaching out to farmers will make them much more efficient.
What should the Federal Government do to make the sector attractive to youths?
The Federal Government should liaise with educational institutions to educate interested youths. Farmers should be guided and coached on different agricultural practices, and most importantly, they should get access to aid without hassle and extortion. Fertilisers and other items should be supplied to young farmers for free. Exporters should also assist in promoting their products and in marketing their services.
Do you see Nigeria’s agricultural sector growing soon?
If reasonable policies are implemented, I foresee a nation that will thrive on agriculture. A nation where youth unemployment will be curbed and farming will become our pride. I am into agriculture to serve as a positive example to other youth in this clime.