Fuel exec turned farmer: Nigeria was intoxicated on oil

He was a high-paid oil employee. Now he’s farming to feed his nation.
For many years, John-Paul Iwuoha delighted in the fruits of Nigeria’s oil boom: The executive had a cushy task in Lagos, making plenty of exactly what he refers to as “simple cash.” However even as the riches flowed, the former consultant started deal with a not likely escape plan: a little farm on the outskirts of town. Iwuoha describes the farm, began 4 years back, as an “experiment.” But when oil costs crashed in 2015, he quickly traded in his business match for a chance to help remake Nigeria’s agricultural sector. “When I saw this crisis coming, I knew this was my exit,” Iwuoha told CNNMoney. “We have a dynamic farming sector that has been abandoned,” he continued.” [Nigeria has] a population of a hundred and seventy million plus people … they can’t feed on oil, someone needs to produce the food.” Full coverage: Nigeria: An economy divided The previous oil executive is ideal: Scarcities of rice and wheat force Nigeria to import food worth $12 billion each year, or one-third of the continent’s total food import bill, according to the African Advancement Bank. Nigeria– where farming is 20% of gdp– simply isn’t growing enough crops. The sector utilizes 10s of countless individuals, but poor nutrition, low yields and unpredictable rates stay rampant. Related: Nigeria’s space program is not an ‘ego trip’ The nation’s farming items were as soon as its pride. In the 1960s, Nigeria was the international leader in palm oil production, and second in cocoa. Export crops were its primary forex earner. However the industry faded into the background as oil ended up being the new commodity of option. “I call it oil drunkenness,” said Iwuoha. “I am happy with the present circumstance, where things are going bad, since it’s causing us to reflect, look inwards.” Plunging crude rates have actually now pushed Africa’s largest economy to the verge of economic downturn. The federal government is racing through its foreign currency reserves, and is dealing with a deficiency of $11 billion in its 2016 budget. The crisis has actually also spurred the government to take a serious take a look at diversifying Nigeria’s economy. Already, it has actually developed rewards to lure workers into farming. Related: Can this huge refinery resolve Nigeria’s energy crisis? Iwuoha, on the other hand, has discovered farming to be challenging. His land was successfully cultivated during the 1980s, but years of inactivity allowed the forest to reclaim the fields. The farm likewise does not have an irrigation system and effective storage rooms. Iwuoha now wants to turn his start-up farm into a successful business. To do so, he says he just has to secure financing. “We built this country on farming, on the pride of the planted seed,” he stated. “We need to go back to the business.”

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