Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, while speaking at the Mo Ibrahim governance ceremony in Abidjan, made people to understand that farming is not a poor man’s business, as one can really get rich faster with farming.

According to him, many people look at farming as a dirty work, and never cared to know that many countries and individuals have made a lot of fortune from it, in fact in some cases displacing petroleum in income generation.

Dangote himself as a billionaire has made a lot of investment in agriculture, that is why he is encouraging others to go into it. He gave example of the current effort of the Nigerian Government at diversifying the economy to an agriculture-centered one, which he regarded as the viable solution to creating a healthy economy.

Speaking  during a meeting in his office with some businessmen from Asia, he disclosed that it was because of his belief in the government’s approach at re-energizing the economy to make it export-oriented that made him to step up his investment in agriculture, especially in the area of food sufficiency.

He made it clear that Nigeria had wasted so much foreign exchange importing food that ordinarily should be produced locally and even exported, and that until a new approach at redirecting the economy from import-dependent to an export one, which the present government was leading, no meaningful changes could happen.

In revealing his investments in agriculture, Dangote said, “We have invested massively in rice, sugar, dairy products and tomatoes. Our rice out grower scheme will produce rice by next year, that reduces our rice import to nearly zero because Nigeria imports more than half of the rice it consumes. We have expanded our sugar operations in Tonga, Nasarawa State, in addition to the Numan sugar project where sugarcane is cultivated for raw sugar production that will be refined.”

With  the above agricultural investments as outlined by the Nigerian born billionaire, one would imagine the kind of financial returns that will accompany them. In  fact, as an indication of his interest in agriculture at an early age of 21, Dangote borrowed $3,000 from his uncle to import and sell agricultural commodities in Nigeria, his native country. His business venture quickly became a success, and as a result, he managed to repay the entire loan within three months of starting operations.

As at today his business empire which he began to build more than three decades ago, ‘the Dangote Group’, is one of the largest private-sector employers in Nigeria as well as the most valuable conglomerate in West Africa.

He presently owns the world’s third-largest sugar refinery, and together all of his publicly traded companies make up a quarter of the market capitalization of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Dangote was born in 1957, raised as a Muslim and lived an upper-class life. His grandfather, Sanusi Dantata, who made his fortune selling things like oats and rice, was once named one of the wealthiest people living in Kano. Dantata became Dangote’s guardian in 1965 after the death of his father.

Dangote’s childhood stay with his grandfather, quickly made him to became interested in the world of business. While referring to his past, Dangote once said, “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.”

AMBROSE NWAOPARA  the writer is an author and a renowned life coach  

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