This month we introduce you to Atinuke Lebile a young agro-entrepreneur without a family farming background but has grown for herself a lifestyle in Agriculture that is inspired by passion and hardwork. Atinuke started her agribusiness year 2014, today she has sole income from her 10 acre farm where she plants plantain, cassava, rice and vegetables while also processing some of her farm products.
Agropreneur Naija had an interview with her where she tells us about herself, how she started her agribusiness enterprise, challenges she faced when she first started up and how she was able to hold on despite the challenges faced.
Q1: Agropreneur, can we meet you?
Answer: My name is Atinuke Lebile a native of Ondo State, Nigeria. I live in Ibadan, Nigeria. I am a rising young female, social agro-entrepreneur with apt interest in societal and human capital development. I manage La’Luce Foods and Integrated Services. I’m a Strategic Officer at Ogunmod Farms & Farmers and Farmers’ Academy and a Production Manager at Cato Foods and Agro- allied Global Concepts. I have a passion for feeding the nation and I’m so overly excited about agriculture. I was born in December!
Q2: How do you view Agribusiness?
Answer: Agriculture is a lifestyle borne out of passion. In this way I’m able to face challenges and head on when they arise.
Q3: Did you grow up on an Agricultural farm?
Answer: No, I don’t have a farming family background.
Q4: So, what brought you into Agribusiness?
Answer: Passion and business. In spite of me being a graduate of Agriculture from the University of Ilorin, my venture into agribusiness was largely of passion and the need to do agriculture in a more attractive way like a real profitable business. The need to reduce postharvest losses experienced by farmers and develop the value chain of primary agricultural products also motivated me to go into agribusiness. I still strongly believe agriculture needs to become attractive especially to young people like me; we are the future of Africa.
Q5: When did you venture into Agribusiness?
Answer: I started agribusiness in the year 2014.
Q6: What Agribusiness do you manage?
Answer: I am into cultivation of vegetables, plantain, cassava and rice. I package ofada rice, fruits, chips, plantain flour, garri, catfish in various sizes (100g – 50kg), and I’m also involved in agro-processing.
Atinuke harvesting her corn from the farm.
Q7: How many acres is your farm?
Q8: Is farming your only source of income?
Q9: What time does your day start and end?
Answer: My day starts at 4am and ends at 11pm
Q10: Does your family have an influence on your Agribusiness?
Answer: Yes, they do. They respect my choice and provide guidance where and when necessary. Even though while starting my dad was not happy seeing his only daughter going into farming. He has been a great support, just like every member of my family. Financial and moral support from my family has really been encouraging.
Q11: Did you face any challenge while starting up?
Q12: What challenge did you face, and how did you deal with it?
Answer: Funding is a major challenge for startups and I wasn’t exempted in the funding issue. I also faced the challenge of standardization and certification by NAFDAC. I chose to start small to achieve my big dreams in terms of finance. I also learnt a lot from mentors.
Q13: What part of Agribusiness do you find hard?
Answer: Primary Production
Atinuke performing irrigation on the soil
Q15: What part of Agribusiness do you find most satisfying?
Answer: The part of having to create products through postharvest processing and cultivate to feed people
Q16: What is the difference in your Agribusiness now and when you started?
Answer: I am still operating at a small scale compared to where I would love to be, but I am not where I used to be. No matter how small progress is, it is still progress anyway.
Q17: Have you ever considered getting out of agriculture for a more lucrative career? Answer: Agriculture is the only sector that has the capacity to create many jobs. My passion has always kept me going. However, there are times that one just feels overwhelmed.
Q18: How do you see your role in your community?
Answer: My role in my community is a very crucial one because I provide food on people’s table.
Q19: How do you think the government should implement the change in the agricultural sector?
Answer: There should be strong input from the youths on policy formulations that can drive the agricultural sector in the direction of commercialization and business development. Agricultural inputs should be subsidized and marketing board should be developed.
Q20: Have you seen any change in the present government involvement with agriculture in Nigeria?
Answers: I believe there will be a change. But I would suggest that they should improve on the achievements of the last administration
Q21: Do you think Nigerians are aware or care about mechanized farming?
Answer: Sure, Nigerians care about mechanized farming
Q22: What changes do you predict the agricultural sector in Nigeria will see over the next 3 years?
Answer: There is going to be more youth involvement. Agriculture will create a lot of jobs and it will benefit from diversified funds.
Q23: Do you have any neighbor, family or friend that have given up Agribusiness?
Answer: YES, a lot.
Q24: What made them choose to give up?
Answer: It was mostly due to the enormous challenges of finance, marketing, climate change, most importantly impatience.
Q25: Do you plan to extend your Agribusiness?
Q26: What is your plan?
Answer: To expand postharvest production and create more jobs. I intend to expand production to reach out to more markets.
Q27: What advice would you give a friend that is also an Agropreneur?
Answer: Take Agriculture as a business. It is viable when you give your best to it. Don’t seek overnight success. Agric will not give you sudden wealth but it will build you sustainable wealth. More females need to come into agriculture because females do things with more precision, care and passion.