Chief Shodimu Abdulkabir, Chief Executive Officer, Evergreen Farms Limited, Ifo, Ogun State, spoke with EMMANUEL UDOM, on how he started agriculture business with N13,000, having been inspired by his parents during his growing up years, why the Muhammadu Buhari-led regime should fix the agric sector to reduce the tally on unemployment.
Today, you are a farmer and teacher. How did your growing up years influence the choice of your professions?
Well, thank you for this question. I was born, buttered, battered in Agege, Lagos, in 1968.
My father was a builder and my mother a trader. But, my Dad engaged in all sectors in the agriculture. We had farms at Orile Agege, which was very busy then and in Ijoko, the present Ogun State. My parents are both from Ogun State.
I attended Salvation Army Primary School, Dopemu, Agege, Lagos and Onipetesi Secondary School, also in Agege, where I mixed with children from various parentage and backgrounds.
On holidays, I will accompany my parents to the farm and infact help in small ways to till the soil, cut the bushes, and do other farm works.
I am convinced deep down that my growing up years with parents who were hustlers inspired me to go into farming full scale.
Did you stop at secondary school to go into farming?
No, after my secondary school education, I gained admission to the Tai Solarin College of Education, Ikene in Ogun State, where I studied Adult Education at the National certificate of Education level, graduating in 1993. I also studied zoology at the degree level at the University of Ibadan.
Even while at the college, I was involved in small time farming and some of my other students used to benefit from the harvests I brought to them from the farms my parents owned in Lagos and Ogun State.
After my college programme, I worked at a teacher in a private school in Lagos, where I rose through the rank to become the administrator of the school. But, the truth is that I was not satisfied deep down with the rigid school system, though, I trained as a teacher.
So, at what point did you start Evergreen Farms?
I started Evergreen when I left the private with the N13,000 I saved then. I used the money to process agricultural land from the government of Ogun State, in 1998.
With encouragements from my wives and children, I used the acquired land to for farming and eventually sold it to another person for over a million naira years later.
I can tell you foe sure that the agricultural sector is profitable as it allows people to acquire hectares of land, use it for agricultural purposes and sell them whenever they want to.
I am involved in farming of all sorts of crops, poultry, rabbitry, goat, sheep, dogs, turkey, rearing.
By the grace of God, the federal government should encourage youths to go into farming.
But, the Muhammadu Buhari-led regime is encouraging farmers at the various states across the federation with all sorts of loans?
Let me be honest with you, farmers across the federation benefited more from the Goodluck Jonathan tenure that the present government.
When Jonathan was in government, farmers in local and urban areas were issued with identification cards, and supplied directly with fingerlings, feed-fish, fertilizers, and other farm inputs at subsidized rates.
The Buhari0led regime ought to continue from when Dr Adesina, who was the minister of agriculture during the Jonathan regime stopped instead of bringing in his own FG-CBN farmers anchor borrowers loan that is suspicious as ghost farmers, instead of original farmers could be benefiting from this programme.
So what in your views are the challenges facing the present farmers?
Well border closure is a blessing to farmers and Nigerians are more and more farmers, who dumped the sector, are now coming back into the system.
But, in all honesty, Buhari should work on irrigations, ensure moneybags from Lagos and other urban areas do not hijack the farms in various communities across the federation.
The Ogun-Osun River Basin Authority for instance used to charge farmers N5, 000 per hectare of land. Some non-farmers used their connection in government to acquire hectares of land and then solf the land at N10,000 per hectare to others.