Alex Atim Adingi is the co-founder of Blue Farms, an offshoot of Midwest Agro Services Limited.
In this exclusive interview with Journalists, the farmer spoke on investment in the agriculture sector to impact Africa and the world. Excerpts.
You are the co-founder of Blue Farms; may you please tell us why you established the farms?
I am the co-founder of blue farms, in partnership with my friend of many years and his name is Emmanuel Olumide Adekumbi; he is from Lagos.
We founded the blue farms arrising from the fact that we saw a lot of potential first in farming, but basically we saw a lot of people go into retirement and never had something particularly to hold on to, because so many people are working and never see where to invest their funds on.
What we are doing now is like a crowd funding where people come together and bring their little funds since they cannot take just about fifty thousand naira and develop a farm, we can have about a hundred people who can bring fifty thousand naira each and develop a very large farm, you invest in it and take from the proceeds reinvest and build up your capital or build up your retirement funds where it could help you thereafter.
It is also a pool of investment where people invest and get their dividends. That’s what brought about blue farms. We have the farms in three geographical areas. In Benue we have oil palm nursery; we are nursing these palm trees farm in view of selling out to government because right now the crude oil we have been celebrating too much is no longer celebrated because the world is shifting from crude oil to other sectors.
For example, manufacturers of cars are moving to alternative energy like solar rather than fuel and the crude oil is getting quickly out of fashion but oil is oil whether crude or palm as far as I am concerned. Apart from other agricultural produce, the palm tree farm we have in Benue State is also in Ado Ekiti and Abuja.
People have invested already and after four or five months as the circle may be we give them back their capital and proceeds; if they want they turn it over and continue. This is basically to the people who cannot go right into the farm arising from either insecurity or they’re not naturally farmers but want to get proceeds from farming.
Where do you see blue farms in the next five years ?
Five years might even be too small for me but in the next five years I see blue farms reaching clearly about twenty five states in this country and people investing and getting a lot of dividends from blue farms.
Are you satisfied with the Agricultural policies in Nigeria?
I have never studied much about other policies except the once that concerns me but in our agriculture technology investment I am not satisfied with the government approach to things. Right now, I expect the government to support this kind of investment where the Minister of Finance has announced that there is recession, I expect that the next low-hanging fruit is agriculture where the land is still fertile.
Dollars might not be coming in but our ground is still fertile that we can farm and support Africans and even the world with what we have and make back our currency but the government comes up putting a lot of pressure on the farmers or any of the sectors that is doing well so to say; this looks to me as a conspiracy against ourselves. The government should do better if it is a realistic one.
What are the challenges blue farms has faced within the years it has been in operation?
So far, the issue of finances, it is very hard for government to give you support financially even though it is on paper where the government is saying she is supporting agriculture and all of these things.
Sometimes you want to get facilities from government but they are really not there or not reachable, it’s still get back to the fact that you have to know who is who; these are the challenges.