The National Coordinator Nigeria Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS) Mr Retson Tedheke has said they were able to grow an N1.5 million investment in agriculture to N2 billion in two years following the commitment of cooperative members and support from the Federal Government.
Tedheke who was a former Niger Delta Militant while briefing journalists in the farm covering over 3000 hectares near Keffi, Nasarawa State, said after President Muhammadu Buhari called on youths to engage in agriculture, he abandoned activism and formed an agricultural cooperative with people who shared his vision.
He said in 2017, they secured an N1.5 million grant from Kia Kia Bits Limited which they used in clearing 10 hectares of land they leased from the community around the farm and also took care of their staff welfare.
“The N1.5 million was to start a foundation because as a Cooperative you need to bring Nigerians from all over the world to join and become members of the cooperative, that was the objective for us, so Kia Kia became a foundation upon which the cooperative stood, they gave us N1.5 million which was supposed to take care of about 10 days of clearing of the land.
“A tractor clears a hectare of land per day, so with N1.5 million, our calculation was that we are going to clear at least 10 hectares from the 3 hectares the community gave to us and the 50 hectares we lease immediately.
“So, we paid N1.2 million for bulldozers and we had the rest coming in for staff welfare and the rest. Before the end of May 2017, members of the cooperative had contributed over 10 million, just between April and May from N1.5 million, we generated over N1 million, before August, other members within the cooperative who believed in the dream had brought in over N100 million within a period of 4 months. So, N1.5 million was the originating seed, that was how we started”, he explained.
Recalled that the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo recently visited the farm where after evaluation of the investment on the ground, he declared that the farm worth N1 billion.
While narrating how they started, Tedheke said in 2017, they planted only Maize, but they encountered a serious set back after the price of Maize crashed, but they were again supported by Kia Kia Bit Limited.
He, however, said currently, they have over 500 animals, 100 ton per day rice mill, construction of facilities to accommodate 10,000 animals and plans with the Nasarawa government to cultivate 1000 hectares of kenaf.