“At present, the involvement of youth in agriculture is very low and a great source of concern”‘ -FEMI BOLAJI, CEO Wauley Farms

In July  2012 Femi Bolaji the CEO of Wauley Farms in Kogi State granted Agropreneur Nigeria an interview to share his experience so far in Agribusiness and Agriculture. He sheds light on his upbringing, his time at the Lagos Business School(LBS) and what the future is like for upcoming agric entrepreneurs.The farm’s current project is a 300 hectare of tomato and ugwu. ( This Interview has been published in the FOOD AND AGRIC NEWSPAPER in the Youth in Agriculture Page)

Mr Femi Boloji, Wauley Farms

Mr Femi Boloji, Wauley Farms

Agropreneur Naija– For how long have you been into agriculture?

Femi Bolaji-I have been into agriculture since my childhood years when I used to assist my father in both production and sales activities. My father was into production of Ugwu and sugar cane in Ikorodu in the 80s to late 90s. I have been into corporate commercial agriculture since February 2010.

Agropreneur Naija– What Challenges did you face while starting up?

Femi Bolaji-In the early days I had to rely on my experience in project and supply chain management to tackle the teething problems as they surface. However, the greatest challenge I had was human resources. Our youth are not ready to pick up jobs in the agric sector and some that are ready to work are mostly found to be insincere. Stealing and sharp practices are usual occurrence and the impact on the business is disastrous.

Another major challenge is that of funding. The commercial banks are not ready to finance agric business and the ones that show some commitment will ask for discouraging collateral.

Agropreneur Naija– How were these challenges managed?

 Femi Bolaji- For the human resource challenge, I had to poach workers from other farms and motivate them with nice incentives. Also, some farms that were having rough times in my state were laying off staff so I picked up some and offer good incentive to work in our farm. However, we developed and put in place a robust mechanism to control, monitor and discipline erring staffer

For the financial aspect, we had to fall back on our resources including support from angel investors. Of recent probably because of the latest conscious efforts of the federal and state governments to develop the agriculture sector, some back have been talking nicely to us and I want to believe that they mean business.

 

Agropreneur Naija–  How was your Training at LBS as an added advantage?

Femi Bolaji-My reason for going to LBS was for capacity development with focus on Entrepreneurial Management. I discovered early that my passion and past working background were not enough to see me through in the complex business of agricultural value chain. My managerial ability has been greatly impacted having gone through courses in strategy, sales, use of social media, customer service, law and taxation, marketing, human resources management, financial management and use of accounting software, web design and use of the web for marketing, business ethics, operation management, etiquette etc

Agropreneur Naija– what is your Opinion about youth involvement in agriculture?

Femi Bolaji -At present, the involvement of youth in agriculture is very low and a great source of concern. Not a fault of the youth totally, a larger blame goes to the government with their age long lack of support and  inconsistency policy in the agricultural sector. Youth in agricultural institution of learning are not thought as medical students are being trained with focus on working in the health sector. Agriculture students upon graduation rush to work in other sectors including banks, insurance companies and so many others that have no relevance to the agricultural sector. The negative impact is what we are witnessing today with lack of interest in agriculture by the youth. However, it’s not all bad news as some youth have taken to agribusiness and are doing nicely. Am also proud of hard working guys using social media to boost the sector.

Agropreneur Naija– Advise for upcoming agric-entrepreneur:

Femi Bolaji -Agriculture remains the bedrock of any nation and will always provide numerous source of income including business opportunities. Everybody including the youth should get seriously involved in agriculture and agribusiness in Nigeria for food security as a nation and import substitution.

 

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