Government neglects agricultural equipment makers, says entrepreneur
Mr Kola Lucas Adeniji, founder of Niji Lucas Engineering Ltd, explains challenges faced by agricultural equipment fabricators in Nigeria and how to move forward. FEMI IBIROGBA presents excerpts.
In what ways are you contributing to agricultural development as a fabricator?
The government is not sincere in Nigeria, and they are not facing the area that can sustain the economy of the country.
What I am saying is that the focus of the government is not developing the economy.
To me, the government is not taking the right approach even though it wants to develop agriculture.
There are ways they can do it if truly they want to develop the sector.
Some of us have been doing our own research not only in Nigeria, but also in some African countries.
If Nigerian government is serious, they can learn from other African countries which ask us to fabricate here and send the products to them. So, there is no single support for some of us that are into fabrication.
Is there any way you think the government can come in?
The government can support by giving us seed grants to standardise products.
The government needs to be more committed by strengthening their efforts to support the local production.
Because the government is not willing to support, most of the products that come from China are cheaper than the local ones.
They even need to standardise a lot of equipment.
How can we develop agriculture without making use of what we have developed?
The government needs to look out for fabricators who have done a lot of things in the past, and showcase their technologies.
What is your association doing to attract help from the government?
We have Agricultural Machinery Equipment Fabrication Association of Nigeria (AMEFAN).
We have been able to get all the members together, but the government does not look at the association and does not ask it to design or fabricate.
Most of the African countries I have been supplying equipment to come in as a result of personal efforts.
They include Tanzania, Italy, Cameroon, and other African countries.
Some of the materials we need to fabricate are sourced outside the country because we find it difficult to get them here.
Some of the fabrication tools are also imported and we need to struggle hard and some of the profit we make goes into paying electricity bills.
I have 100kva and 40kva generators which I have been using for almost six years because the power supply here in Lagos is not good. I have my borehole too.
We need to look for money when we design an equipment to do the prototype before we scale it up.
That is part of what we face.
I have been designing and fabricating processing equipment for the past 28 years in Nigeria, but no single support has come from the government up till now.
What do you think is the way forward?
The way forward is that the government should set up a centre where most of the fabricators will be in one area, where the government will provide power supply, water and other basics, with each fabricator specialising in what he does.
Farmers can come to these centres and have solutions to their agricultural challenges.
Another thing is that the government should look for a way of assisting AMEFAN to import some of the materials for equipment fabrication.
And when you look at Nigeria’s economic problem, it revolves around 20% working population while 80% are feeding on the 20%.
That is why it is difficult coming out of poverty.
The resources the 80% are spending come from those that are working.
Efforts must be made to employ more people and one of the ways is to encourage agricultural equipment fabricators.
Small scale machines will empower more households and get people to add value to agricultural products.
We can’t use bank money to develop the agric sector in Nigeria or in Africa because banks are doing business.
They are not ready to build the country, but their own business.
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