Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has revealed how he started his farming business as an apprentice after retiring as military Head of State in 1979.
The former president made this revelation at a lecture in the University of Ibadan on Saturday on the topic: “Agribusiness: Time to act”.
Obasanjo disclosed that he enrolled at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan to learn the art of farming as an apprentice for three months shortly after he left office.
The former president, reputed to have launched Operation Feed the Nation in 1976, an ambitious campaign to mobilize the nation towards self-sufficiency, is the owner of Ota Farms, one of Nigeria’s most popular and biggest farm.
He recalled that his teachers at the institute initially had problems relating with him as a student or apprentice but that he insisted on being addressed and treated as a student and an apprentice because according to him, that was the only way to enjoy the teaching-learning process.
“I cleaned chicken house. I fed chicken. That is how to be a farmer. Anything less won’t do. You can’t be a successful farmer without being an apprentice”, he asserted.
Mr. Obasanjo also explained that no matter how learned or how many degrees one has, it requires learning as an apprentice, deep interest and passion to go into farming and succeed.
“There must be interest and passion for people to go into agriculture and succeed in it. We must get it right. We have to glamourize and incetivize farming to keep people that are interested in agriculture in the business”.
The former president stressed that no plan to take people into agriculture will work except the people have passion for farming and are willing to learn the art of farming first.
Obasanjo expressed his willingness to mentor young farmers where possible.