The University of Ilorin and Oriental Energy Resource Farms Ltd, an agro-based firm belonging to Borno State entrepreneur, Mohammed Indimi, recently signed a 21 years “land lease agreement” for mechanised agricultural projects.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed by Mr Indimi and Vice-Chancellor of UNILORIN, Jubril Oyelekan, at the Maiduguri office of OER Farm Ltd last week.
The MOU stipulates that UNILORIN would provide 10,000 hectares of land in the next 21 years to Mr Indimi’s new company for the development of a mechanised agricultural project.
Also in the signed accord, the university will provide both the technical and manpower needs that OER Farms requires to develop and operate the agro-business project “in line with best industry practice to increase productivity within the sector.”
The farm project is to produce “improved crop varieties with high yielding cash crops such as maize, soya beans and cashew.”
The project is also designed to “develop the capacity of the University of Ilorin in agricultural research, improve farm practice, develop agric entrepreneurs who will give farming a different perspective, promote local Inclusion and enhance economic viability in catchment areas.”
Mr Oyelekan said “This project is a massive one and it is quite unique because we are not bringing anybody from outside; the University of Ilorin is going to provide the land for us and their Faculty of Agriculture will be providing all labour and the expertise, and we will pay them.”
Mr Indimi, a oil businessman, said “enhancing food security in the country” was his major motivation in venturing into agriculture.
“If you go to the Benin Republic now, there are over 15 million tonnes of rice to be shipped into Nigeria,” the businessman, who was listed as one of Africa’s richest men in 2015, said.
“I asked, why can’t they consume them and I was told that they only eat their local rice. They don’t (like) the foreign rice themselves and they want to dump it on other people. This is unacceptable and I commend the president for his stand on the closure of our borders.”
Though he is divesting into agriculture, Mr Indimi, while fielding journalists’ questions, faulted the narrative that oil is fast losing its relevance as a major global economic player.
He said agriculture cannot stop the world from tapping the fossil energy which he said is still in abundance.
“We are going to drill the oil until we drain it all,” he said.
“Maybe not in my generation but I have groomed the younger ones that will do that. My company does a lot of things and not just oil. Like I said before, agriculture is my long-time dream and I am very happy that we have ventured into it now. I am also particularly happy because our investment in agriculture will enhance food security in the country.”
Mr Indimi, an ‘inlaw’ to President Muhammadu Buhari, said he also supports Mr Buhari’s border closure policy saying “such drastic measures will enhance production and boost the local economy of the country.”