Valentine Adura is a youth with a difference. He has not just stopped putting into practice all the agriculture based knowledge he acquired right from childhood. The CEO of Adura Baba, answers our questions and shares his journey in agriculture so far
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN AGRICULTURE LIKE?
Growing up as a child, I usually helped my grandparents on the farm when I visit the village during long vacations, farming or agriculture then was interesting to me and perhaps that’s where my interest and passion for agriculture started. To crown it all, I finally studied Agricultural Engineering at the Federal University Of Technology Minna, Niger State in Nigeria.
WHAT DRIVES YOUR PASSION FOR AGRICULTURE?
My passion for Agriculture is driven by my love and interest in the Agricultural sub-sector especially as this is the only sector that seeks to solve the most important and basic human need of “FOOD” for man. That is why my passion in agriculture is guided by the principle of “Improving agriculture investment for a better future”
HOW DID YOU START YOUR ENTERPRISE?
Adura Baba Integrated Farms started as a very small enterprise with just fifty (50) Day-old broilers in a small thatch house in 2011. Agriculture is a practical and experimental sector, you learn and gather experience as the years go by, I started on a real small scale but to the glory of God I have gathered experience, grown and still growing in this all important enterprise (Poultry and Fish Farming).
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE AND HOW DID YOU COPE?
As a start up, I faced a lot of challenges ranging from;
Harsh weather condition
High cost of feeds, vaccines and medications
Funding/stringent loans conditions from financial institutions
And above all frustrating selling prizes from middle men
How I coped and still cope with the challenges;
As an Agricultural Engineer I constructed my poultry house using insulated materials so as to reduce heat conduction and transmission in the pen, the pens are also well ventilated hence creating a very good and conducive environment for my birds.
For the high cost of feeds, I compliment commercial feeds with other feed supplements like left over breads and other innovative farm practices. I have recently started formulating my poultry feed, I now buy some of my vaccines and medications in bulk therefore reducing my cost of production.
Funding is indeed one of the major challenges faced by upcoming start-up like me, loans conditions for most of the banks are very stringent, people most of the times hardly believe in your passion and dreams as a start-up hence are very skeptical in investing in you.
As a start-up you can’t completely do away with these middle men, but over time I learnt how to by-cut them and make my sales directly to the consumers, though one need extra energy and strategy in marketing your products directly to the final consumers.
DO YOU THINK THE GOVERNMENT IS DOING ENOUGH TO FORSTER YOUTH INVOLVEMENT IN AGRIBUSINESS?
Government is not doing enough in encouraging youth into Agribusiness, though the Federal Government and some state governments has in the past put up programs that will encourage youths into entrepreneurship especially agribusiness but the implementation of these programs where not well implemented. Government has also not provided the right infrastructure and policies to support youth involvement in Agribusiness, if the government is really serous in the reduction of unemployment in Nigeria, it must increase its budgetary allocation to the ministries of Agriculture and that of Youth Development, these ministries in turn must bring about realistic Agriculture programs that will mop out the youths on the streets. Youth and women unemployment in Nigeria can only be reduced through Agriculture, I must beg to add that the youth must also have an attitudinal change towards agriculture too.
IS FARMING/AGRIBUSINESS PROFITABLE IN YOUR OPINION?
Farming/Agribusiness is very profitable, I can say authoritatively for poultry and fish farming which is my constituency that it is a goldmine yet to be untapped in Nigeria especially now that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is reviewing policies on the importation of frozen chicken and fish. According to available records by FAO, Nigeria presently produces about 300,000 tons of poultry meat and 650,000 tons of eggs/annum. A parallel record also from Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), indicates that Nigeria produces presently above 1.25million tons of egg/year. Despite, this volume, Nigeria is far from meeting her domestic demand for poultry products. Similarly, it is estimated that the annual fish demand in the country is about 2.66million tons as against the annual domestic production of about 0.78million tons, giving a demand-supply gap of about 1.8million metric tons. With these estimates and figures, it clearly shows that agribusiness especially poultry and fish is highly profitable and I will advice youth to take advantage of this goldmine.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE FOR YOUTH IN AGRICULTURE?
There are a lot of opportunities for youth in the agricultural sector. Agriculture or agribusiness gives you self satisfaction and self employment. Agriculture is one sector that can create massive jobs for the teeming youth hence reducing youth restiveness.
Poverty reduction and wealth creation in youth can only be achieved through agriculture especially as 65% of the rural youth depend only on agriculture. Let me use this opportunity to advice my fellow youths to take advantage of these many opportunities in agriculture and start agribusiness and stop looking for white collar jobs which are not in existence and which do not even give job satisfaction. Finding our root back to agriculture is just the only option left for our Nigerian youths.
WHAT KIND OF TRAINING HAVE YOU HAD SO AS TO SUCCEED IN YOUR AGRICBUSINESS?
I was lucky to be selected as one of the delegate to represent Benue State by the State ministry of youth and Sport for a two (2) weeks training on skills acquisition in Gombe state where I was trained on poultry farming, this event was organized by the Federal ministry of youth development in 2010. I have on a personal note done research and attended a lot of training and workshops on poultry and fish farming too. And of course, because of my profession as an agricultural engineer, it’s was easier for me to comprehend or fit in well in Agribusiness.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS TO HELP YOUTH TRYING TO START UP AN AGRIBUSINESS?
Yes, I do.
As a start-up in Agribusiness, you must be passionate, focused and hardworking to succeed. If you are into livestock, poultry and fisheries, you need to be very observant as animals do not speak hence careful observation is needed to detect when any of the animals is ill.
Recording keeping in business generally is very important. The mistake most youth do in agribusiness is failing to keep records, every money spent in your business must be accounted for, never take monies from agribusiness as your personal funds.
The last tip I always give to youths who are start-up or intend going into Agribusiness is joining of groups like Agropreneur Naija, Young Farmers Clubs, Youths Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture etc, these group helps you with information and forms a network that even helps in marketing of your products. Government and other donor agencies tends to even deal with groups than individuals, so your association with some of these serous minded groups helps you as start-up in Agribusiness.