Cost of labour, mechanisation hindering commercial agriculture

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An agriculturist, Prince Ade Ajayi, says the cost of labour and availability of adequate machinery are major challenges to the development of commercialised agriculture in the country.

Ajayi, who made the observation in Lagos, noted that he faced similar difficulties while cultivating a 50-hectare of oil palm plantation.

Ajayi, also the National Coordinator of Corporate Farmers International, said that to break even in the agribusiness space required the cultivation of large expanse of farmland.

“Commercial agriculture needs several hectares of land to be cultivated before you can break even in serious agribusiness. However, there are factors hindering the success of such venture.

“Number one challenge is lack of manpower in the agricultural sector. The trend of youth migration from rural to urban cities in search of white-collar jobs is becoming worrisome.

“The absence of technology for mechanised agriculture is a problem in addition to inadequate financial instruments that can properly fund commercial agriculture.

“Also, the lack of consistency in government’s agricultural policy is a factor militating against commercial agriculture,’’ Ajayi said.

He noted that the dependence on manual labour is promoting the use of hard drugs such as marijuana and tramadol by some young farm labourers.

“Majority of manual labourers in the farm take these drugs to enable them to finish several hectares of land.

“The rate at which the youth take performance-enhancing drugs to enable them to clear large expanse of farmland, especially in the northern part of Nigeria, requires the attention of all stakeholders.

“This becomes necessary so that we don’t lose another generation of young people in agribusiness space to illicit drugs,’’ Ajayi said.