Young Agropreneur of the Month (YAP)

We dedicate this page of our blog to enterprising and inspiring young men and women who are do their part no matter how small to the progress of the agricultural sector. These they do through their businesses, research, advocacy and so on. This serves as our own way of saying THANK YOU young agriculturist.

A TEEP ALUMNI TALKS ABOUT HIS CASSAVA BUSINESS, ADVICES UPCOMING YOUNG AGROPRENEURS

Photo Credit: Kolawole Omotola 

This month we interview Kolawole Omotola a young entrepreneur from Ekiti state. He is also a Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) Alumni, today he has a cassava processing facility where he packages “garri” for consumers within and outside his community. Omotola is one youth who have succeeded with support through business skills training, mentoring, access to seed capital funding and together with passion for entrepreneurship.

We introduce him as our Young Agropreneur of the Month, here he tells us his story, how he started and established his company “Oyinkola Enterprises” and how he overcame market acceptance of his product which was his major challenge. He discusses constraints to cassava business among others. Omotola ends with his future plans, recommendations for government and advice to upcoming youth intending to go into Agribusiness.

Introduction

I am Kolawole Omotola, a native of Ekiti state, a graduate of Computer Science from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State and the CEO of Oyinkola Enterprises.

I am a member of a big family with many siblings. I had no choice but to strive and cater for myself. This thought me to stay focused and be determined to never give up and be a great achiever. Growing up was indeed by God’s grace. I have great passion for agricultural activities and I have a goal to produce food for my community.

Starting up

I am into cassava crop processing, I am a garri maker! The major challenge that was faced while starting up was market acceptance. But with God it came as a success, our product was evenly embraced by all in the community.

 

Photo credit: Kolawole Omotola

Benefits

  • Agribusiness is my lifestyle; I personally made the choice of the business of agriculture. I am happy doing it because I am achieving my dreams. It gives me joy when customers give happy comments on the product, like your garri was wonderful; we so much enjoy taking it.
  • Oyinkola Enterprises have employees that help in the cassava crop processing. We have 4 permanent staffs and about 8 casual staffs with different roles. We have been able to create little jobs for the society as the women who come to peel our crops go home with little cash at the end of the day to help with their various family; we also train our workers to gain some skills, this we believe has its multiplier effect on our productivity as an enterprise.

Constraints

  • The hardest part of the business is the peeling of crops before grating and what makes this difficult is lack of peeling machine. We believe, as soon as the enterprise is able to get this machine, our work will be easier and faster.
  • Another issue we are experiencing is on some of our causal staffs who have little or no formal education; we are faced with the problem of starting with them from the crash.
  • Government’s inconsistent policy is also a major constraint that needs a positive change and adjustment. This will encourage more youths to be involved in the business of agriculture.

Future Plans

  • Even though we still purchase cassava crops from farmers to process, we are planning on cultivating our own cassava and increasing the quantity of our processed product.
  • We intend to venture into the business of industrial starch and cassava flour soonest.
  • We are planning to have a branch in Ekiti state before the end of the year and hope to have branches of Oyinkola Enterprises in different states of Nigeria as time goes on.

Recommendation to the Government

  • Kindly empower more extension workers to assist farmers on their farm to get it right on modern farming techniques and methods.
  • Help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by easing the process of getting the NAFDAC number for their products.
  • Ensure adequate access to agricultural machinery, like the tractor, plough etc.

Advice for Upcoming Entrepreneurs and Youths 

  • My advice is that you should be ready to face your life and prepare to start small because where you start from will not be where you will be in few months after starting. Start now and face the challenges ahead as life itself is a challenge. So this is a challenge worth facing to better your life, family and community. You will be proud you did!

Many youths always complain of fund as the major problem of not starting their dream business. But I will say it is not the first thing to consider if one wants to start. Firstly, seek for more knowledge on that particular business and before you are done with that, there will be provision of finance.

Oyinkola Enterprises on Facebook, Website

 

Making the most of opportunity – Tolulope’s brave choice in building her own cassava processing/packaging business venture

 

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Photo credit: Tolulope Aina

Aina Tolulope an undergraduate of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Ibadan and a native of Ogun State is the CEO of Tolulope foods processing and packaging company- which is currently into the processing and packaging of Gari and has a brand known as MyGari aside packaging food items as souvenier for events. She developed the interest in cassava cultivation and processing during the one-year practical year training program while she was in 400 Level.

Despite several challenges, Tolulope chose not to back down!  She believes agriculture has revolutionized in this jet age and with the current state of the country, Nigerians especially the youths, should wake up and be that change they want to see instead of waiting for miracles to happen from the government.

INTRODUCTION

My name is Aina Tolulope, a student of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Ibadan.  I am the CEO of Tolulope foods processing and packaging company, a brand that is currently into the processing and packaging of Gari called MyGari. I was born on the 12th of September!

When and where was the start of your journey into agribusiness?

My interest in agribusiness started during the practical year training program at the University of Ibadan for 400 level students. During this period, I developed the interest in cassava cultivation and processing and I decided from that time to pursue cassava cultivation, processing and packaging as a business venture.

Tolulope's Packaged Garri as souvenir for an event

What is your view about agribusiness?

Agribusiness to me differs from the conventional mentality people especially the youths have about the business enterprise. Agriculture generally has upgraded from the use of crude implements to mechanized farming, to agro- processing which helps to improve the value of agricultural products in the local and foreign market. The packaging also helps in adding value to the product. Oh well in this jet age, so packaging is key.

What part of your agribusiness do you find most satisfying and what part do you find most challenging?

The most challenging part has to do with expansion and capital needed for the business- since agribusiness is generally capital and labour intensive. Against all odds what’s satisfying about agribusiness is identifying problems that spring up from time to time, putting in place combating strategies and actually seeing positive results in respect to that.

What challenges did you face while starting up and what decisions and choices did you make to manage the challenges?

Hmmm… That’s a whole lot you know? but let me share a few of them. Initially, financing the business was the first issue, how to convince was next – how do I convince the identified sources to invest in the business? There was a dramatic incident which could have totally discouraged me from starting but I thank God I didn’t let that pose as a limitation, it was when a supposed expertise in the field who I expected to be a mentor was just after how much he could swindle out of me. Well, lessons were learnt and business had to go on. That’s what challenges are called right? (Laughs)….

Photo credit: Tolulope Aina

I chose not to back down, though challenges kept on popping up. The more they kept popping up, the more combating strategies were put in place. But then the beauty of it all is after much effort in trying to make things work out, you begin to yield positive results and those that looked down on you begin to appreciate you, people begin to acknowledge you as a source of motivation to others, a problem solver and a motivation to both young and old, these to me are priceless.

It’s not just about starting a business and keeping it moving, it is how much lives one can touch on the way up the ladder. Above all, focus, perseverance, hard work (with smart work as an active ingredient) and most importantly God’s grace is what has kept this business going.

How have the choices and decisions you made helped in the success of your business?

Choices like how to process the best quality of ‘Gari’, how to make it available for an affordable price, and what packaging material should be used, the form of packaging, size of the packaging, the target market among others. The decisions made were made based on the most cost-effective options that would benefit both the target market and the business. As an Agricultural Economist, I am concerned about minimizing cost, providing the product at an affordable price and still make the desired profit.

Some of Tolulope's packaged food products as souveniers

Do you attend seminars, mentoring programs for improvement in your business? How do you keep yourself informed for improvement in your business and what steps have you taken to improve?

Lol, why not? If I don’t, how then will I keep myself motivated and develop in the field? One of the essential qualities of an agripreneur is good and upgraded knowledge of the business. To me, knowledge is key!

What’s your view on youth involvement in agro-processing, and packaging?

It’s key, in short, this is the future of this nation’s agribusiness. The bulk of food being consumed in Nigeria come from rural sources, others are from import sources with very little from private owned commercial farms. These rural farmers employ the use of crude implements. This is the 21st century, technology has gone way beyond that, where are the youth, the leaders of tomorrow and what are they doing about this? Even rural youth are coming to the city to ride okada.

Tolulope's Packaged Garri Product

The period of glut is accompanied with abundance of some resources and when these products are off season the nation experiences severe scarcity. What is wrong with our storage facilities? What is happening to mechanized farming? Asides from what we hear in the news about government empowering the youths in Agriculture? How many deserving youths have been empowered? How can a nation like ours that is blessed with a favorable climate for the cultivation of various agricultural produce still be unable to boast of being food secure? What is the problem? Is the government doing less or are the citizens ignoring agriculture? The reality is this, the supply of the labour force is higher that the demand for it. Year in year out we have thousands of youths ploughed into this sphere called labour force yet everyone prays and hopes for a good job, please where are these jobs? Youths let’s sit back and think about how we can help reduce these problems rather than add to it. How can we help ourselves to help others?

I apologize if I have somewhat digressed but then, we have to tell ourselves this truth, with the current state of our economy right now, everyone has to wake up and think of how to help revive our nation, the government cannot do it all, we cannot die of starvation by waiting for miracle to happen from the government, let us wake up and be that change we want to see.

What ideas would you encourage the government to implement to ensure youths involvement in Agribusiness?

Government, please help the youths, create avenues for seminars and training for the youths in Agriculture, there is need to reorientate the youths that there is more to agriculture than the use of hoe and cutlass, in short aside from all these ambiguous empowerment programs with little resultant effect on the economy when evaluated,  Identify interested youth, train them, divide them into teams of professionals in various aspects of agriculture, empower them by giving them substantial amount of hectares to cultivate, provide them with required resources, prompt mentoring and put up a structure that can accommodate sales of their product. When the government has agricultural products to sell, sporadic fluctuation of food items by suppliers will reduce. It is a broader concept which I cannot elaborately explain in this interview, but then trust me- there is a lot to be done especially on the part of the government.

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What is your advice to agropreneurs that have the desire go into agribusiness agro-processing and packaging?

In business, if one looks at all the likely problems to be encountered, no one would really start anything. Like I actually tell people from experience, there will never be a perfect time to take a bold step towards achieving one’s goals. You have to take the time (which is now) and make it perfect. Against all odds, you just have to take the  risk, calculated risk and not just risks without a well thought out plans, do not let anyone or anything weigh you down or deter you from achieving your dreams.

Identify persons that keep you motivated and strive towards being a source of motivation to others, be ye never particular about the profit to be made from a business but be more concerned about how many lives you can impact, a problem solver you can be not just for yourself but for the benefit of the entire human race. But then, you can never be too certain about some outcome, therefore, you should never rule out the God factor, do your best and let him crown your effort.

Agribusiness Incubation: A Young Agropreneur’s Story, Post Incubation

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Johnbosco on the farm

This month we bring you a model youth of the IITA youth Agripreneur who was mentored to see Agriculture as a business. Today he has moved on to make for himself a growing and thriving business in plantain, banana and pineapple sucker production and multiplication among others, he distributes his suckers to various locations across Nigeria while he also helps farm setups both in Nigeria and diaspora with their farm management and setup. He also gives training on the production and business aspect of his mandate crops.

JohnBosco has since realized that picking agriculture as a business is the only work of life that is capable of giving massive percentage return on investment with eye-catching cost benefit ratio and higher curve of income, only if seen as a business. He thanks IITA for taking the lead to walk the talk on Youth in Agribusiness in Africa and encourages the Private and Public sectors and the world to rise up and walk the talk with proactive measures to help Youth see Agriculture as a business.

JohnBosco advices young people who have failed before in their agribusiness not to see it as a setback as every time invested in business has an impact and enables us see ways doing business in a particular way would’nt work.

In this piece he reveals how he started and projects he is currently working on in the value chain and discusses challenges faced as it relates to youth engagement in Nigeria.

Q1. Can you briefly introduce yourself? How was growing up like for you?

Answer: My name is Ezemenaka Johnbosco, preferably called Bosco by fans. I come from Anambra state, born and brought up in Ibadan. I grew up as a normal child with passion for business and development, but with no formal foresight of what sector of business I wanted as a child. Now, I’m the C.E.O of AgroBosco – Agribusiness and Consulting, Founder – International Forum for Youth in Agribusiness ‘IFYA’ (a virtual non-formalized platform), Agribusiness Analyst for Aroms Farms Nigeria Limited and Program Manager for McPennin Nigeria Limited.

Q2. Can you please tell us how you came into farming/agribiz? Do you have a background in Agric? If No, Tell us why you considered agriculture?

Answer: I have an Agricultural background in Soil Science and Land Management, Agricultural Extension and Rural Development. There’s no doubt I had the background from a Federal Agricultural University, still I had no clue of what aspect of life I was going to make that money from, even as at my fourth year as an undergraduate. I eventually graduated and as luck would play its role, I found myself in International Institute of Tropical Agriculture as my place of primary assignment as a Youth Corper serving my nation.

I was mentored and spawned to see Agriculture as a business. From there, I gained momentum with a crystal clear vision and goal to my independence and self-sustainability, so I decided to scramble for professional experience in Agribusiness Development, Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, Public Management and Leadership.

Picking up Agribusiness as my part of life is simply because Agriculture is the ONLY work of life that is capable of giving you massive Percentage Return on Investment with eye-catching Cost Benefit Ratio and higher Curve of Income, only if seen as a business.

John bosco working on the farm

Q3. What aspect or nature of work in Agriculture do you practise? Briefly, Tell us about your work?

Answer: With practical experience in maize seed production, soybean seed production, cassava production / stem multiplication, plantain / banana fruit production and rapid sucker multiplication using macro-propagation technique and pineapple production / rapid sucker multiplication, this has helped me setup my own company. I give trainings on the aforementioned crops, help clients near and in diaspora set up farms and management, help develop Agribusiness companies in line with their business strategies to meet their business goals, help develop business plans, project plans and proposals with groovy and keen attention in Agri-start-ups for Youths.

Q4. What societal problems are you solving with your work and what solutions are you using? What are the hurdles currently being faced?

Johnbosco facilitating Macro-propagation of Hybrid Plantain

Answer: I have been giving trainings on the production and business aspect of my mandate crops to Youths and Farmers for self dependence, sustainability and enhanced income. Since commercial banks hardly finance Youths to start their venture, I’m working on providing Agri-finance with the Co-Founder of International Forum for Youths in Agribusiness – IFYA through ‘crowd-funding’ (micro fund raising through our members on the IFYA virtual platform) to set up Agri start-ups (maximum of $26,000 USD with an approved business plan).

Q5. What do you think about youth participation in Agriculture?

Answer: Youth participation is Agriculture is just the tool-box for significantly increasing food security, reducing world poverty and unemployment to ALARP level. Statistically, Youth make up the highest percentage of world’s population density with significant physiological and morphological capacity capable of deactivating the world time bomb. There’s no two ways about using Youth as a veritable tool.

Q6. What are the challenges of youth engagement in agribusiness as it relates to what you do, How do you think it is affecting Agricultural Entrepreneurship in Nigeria?

Answer: There are numerous challenges faced by Youth engaged in Agribusiness. The primary and number one challenge is ‘change of mindset’, others are secondary. Youths should have their mindset changed about Agriculture, the Private and Public sectors should help Youth see Agriculture as a business. A proactive concept and programs with strong Monitoring and Evaluation should be developed in all continents to tackle this and not just financing start-ups for Youths. Special regards to the IITA’s concept of Youth in Agribusiness, as a model in Africa. I tell you this; if you give a Youth $1 billion for an Agribusiness venture without having his/her mindset changed about seeing Agriculture as a business and the prospects attached to it, then you just poured water into a basket. I know there are so many programs and concepts about changing the mindset of Youths towards seeing Agriculture as a business, but the world has to rise and walk the talk with proactive measures. More regards to IITA for taking the lead to walk the talk on Youth in Agribusiness in Africa.

Johnbosco at the IITA youth Agripreneur incubation plot

In Nigeria, this has greatly affected negatively, considering the teeming Youth population moving into Nigerian labour market quarterly, and then you can figure out how devastating this is in Africa, having Nigeria as the most populous country in Africa. Just figure it out! Example: My friend ‘A’ is comfortable working as a freelancer with a bank and receiving a limited token as salary, while my friend ‘B’ quitted his freelancing ICT job for just a commodity in Agribusiness and now making fortune with unlimited revenue and profit generation.

Q7. What advice do you have for young people engaged in agriculture?

Answer: My advice for young people engaged in Agriculture is to see it as a business. Only then will they realise the fortune that awaits them. In business, every time invested has an impact. Failing is normal in life, but they should NEVER see ‘fail’ as a setback in any of the value-chains of Agribusiness they are into, but rather see ‘fail’ as a finding of ways that don’t work.

Q8. What do you think government should put in place to improve the agric sector in Nigeria? Suggest Advice

Answer: Nigeria government should; 1. Take Youth as a tool-box for development of the Agricultural sector. 2. Work on changing the mind-set of the Youths through Non-Governmental Organizations and private sectors who are walking the talk and proactive, and embracing these organizations with resources needed. 3. Significantly reduce the interest rates on loan and to make it easily accessible to the common Youth. Government should be proactive about the aforementioned using aggressive and diplomatic Monitoring and Evaluation framework base approach.

Here is a Youtube video of Johnbosco talking about Plantain Macropropagation in Nigeria.

Contact him via boscowjay@yahoo.com or Blog

How I resigned my teaching job in Lagos to start a big farming business in Sokoto – CEO Sawah Farms

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Ezedike Fredrick on his farm

Editors Note:

Ezedike Fredrick is a “northern farmer” who hails from Imo State.  He is a graduate of Pure and Applied Physics from Lodoke Akintola University (LAUTECH) Fredrick’s interest in agribusiness developed during his youth service year when his students became his friends. They took him to their various farms after school hours and enlightened him about the business of agriculture. He was encouraged to buy bags of onions for storage and make extra money apart from his NYSC allawe. Unfortunately, the onions spoilt but He did not give up! In fact, the situation triggered him to have a better interest in farming. Today, he is an onion, garlic and tomatoes farmer and CEO of Sawah Farms based in Sokoto state, Nigeria. Fredrick is our Young Agropreneur of the Month!

Introduction 

My name is Ezedike Fredrick. I hail from Nwagele Local Government Area, Imo State.  I had my primary and secondary school education in Lagos, so I will say I was born and brought up in Lagos State. I studied Pure and Applied Physics from Lodoke Akintola University (LAUTECH). Great Lado-ki-te!

How did you develop the interest in Agriculture and when did you consider it as a business to venture into?

My interest in agriculture developed during youth service year in Wurno Local Government Area, Sokoto State. I was posted to a school and my first new friends were the students I taught Physics, my new friends enlightened me about farming by taking me to their individual farms. They encouraged me to buy bags of onions for storage and make extra money apart from the NYSC allawe – assuring me that within few months, before my passing out parade day I would make huge returns. Unfortunately, the onions spoilt but I did not give up! In fact, the situation triggered me to be very interested in farming. This is because I wanted to know what caused the spoilage of my onions.

What aspect of Agriculture do you practice?

When service year ended, I travelled back home to Lagos but before I did, I bought a cow with the little money I had and left  the cow in Wurno with one of my friends because I knew I was still going to travel back. I worked in Lagos for some time hoping to get funds and go back to farming, but it did not work out as planned.

In March 2015, I resigned from the teaching job I got in Lagos and went back to Sokoto to learn about farming- with no money and no plan of how I was going to get accommodation. The only source of getting income was the cow I bought and left behind after youth service. Also, Language (Hausa) was another barrier but I moved around with my young friends, and volunteered to take free English lessons, this made me popular with other people around. I learnt the Hausa language and was able to communicate well with people about my wants and as God will do it a lot of people gave me advice on what to get and how to start farming. I presently specialize in the area of onions, garlic, and tomatoes farming.

Can you tell us the challenges you faced while starting up?

My main challenge while starting up with agribusiness in the northern part of Nigeria was having to call the names of chemicals used in farming in the local language (Hausa) and not in English. Also in the area of nursery development, the rain was a major factor that destroyed the seed beds while growing up.

What societal problem are you experiencing, and what measures have you implemented to curb it?  

The major societal problem that affects my business directly is the inability to get people that are educated technology wise. Also, communication is very much needed in farming – most of the rural farmers don’t have a means of communication talk less of knowing how to operate a phone. I buy phones and give to some farmers I work with, I also teach them how to operate it – so as to ease our work as a team.

What do you think about youth participation in Agriculture? Do you think funding is a major challenge for youths?

 

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I believe if the youths participate in agriculture like the way they do in the entertainment industry, Nigeria’s economy will grow. For now youth participation is still not impactful. Youths should be aware of what they are getting into- before thinking of how to fund it. In an area where a fund is available and a youth is not enlightened about what to farm- of what use is such fund! Funding is not the only challenge. Youths should show seriousness, commitment, zeal and passion for farming.

What advice do you have for young people still thinking of going into agriculture?

My advice to the young people thinking of going into agriculture is that they should first forget about making a quick profit. ‘First know what you are getting
into because it is not a course but a life experience’ so be ready to be hard working.

What do you think the government should put in place to improve the agricultural sector in Nigeria?
The government should farm directly. They have hectares all over Nigeria, let them    get involved and see what farmers go through in terms of getting inputs like chemicals, seeds, and fertilizer. They should subsidize inputs and encourage farmers to expand their agribusiness. They should also concentrate on areas known for the production of certain food crops in the past and find out why it is no more as productive as it was then –this will help them have an appropriate solution to solve such a problem.

Ezedike Fredrick  – CEO, Sawah Farms

Email: Sawahfarms@gmail.com

Twitter: @Sawahfarms

Growing In Confidence: Understanding Latest Farming Technologies, Creating Opportunities

Planting of rice using the DPS machine

Planting of rice using the DPS machine

Tolu while growing up loved Agriculture but wasn’t interested in taking up a profession in the sector, she was latter convinced by a close friend to study Medicine to become a medical doctor. After writing JAMB twice to study Medicine (but not offered admission), Tolu decided to take up soil science and land resources management offered to her at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-ife, Osun state hoping to eventually change course to Faculty of health. She however, fell in love with the course and made up her mind to continue.

Today she leverages on her work at the International Fertilizer and Development Centre (IFDC) to facilitate farmers on using latest modern farming technology (UDP) aimed at increasing N fertilizer use efficiency in rice production among other crops, her interaction with farmers has enabled her to understand basic challenges farmers face and help proffer solutions and advice.

Tolu shares her excitement about future possibilities for Agriculture in Nigeria, if competent individuals with proven track record for getting things done are brought in and put in charge of farming centres established in each state of the Federation. She also advised continuation but review of the process and approach used for the Growth Enhancement Support scheme (GES) of the last administration for optimal result.

Q1. Can you briefly introduce yourself? How was growing up like for you?

Ans: I am Tolulope Ayeyemi, I hail from Itaogbolu in Akure North LGA, Ondo state. I attended Christ the King Nursery and Primary school Akure and proceeded to Saint Louis Grammar School, Akure for my secondary school education after which I got admission to Study Soil science and Land resources Management at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state, Nigeria.

Q2. Can you please tell us how you came into farming/agribiz? Do you have a background in Agric? If No, Tell us why you considered agriculture?

Ans: Let me start this way, I had always loved agriculture, probably because my dad is a passionate agricultural science teacher and was my agric teacher at some point in secondary school, in fact I was a member of young farmers club in my secondary school however I wasn’t interested in taking up a profession in the agricultural sector. I had always wanted to be in the health sector, at first, I desired to be a Nurse but a very close friend convinced me to go in to Study Medicine and become a medical doctor, however things turned around when I was offered Agricultural economics and Extension at University of Ibadan at my first JAMB attempt. I didn’t take up the offer because I wasn’t interested in Agriculture as a profession. I took the next Jamb, this time, I was offered Soil Science and Land resources management at Obafemi Awolowo University, I didn’t have so many choices anymore and I had to take it with the hope that I will cross over to Faculty of Health sciences the next session or better still put in for another Jamb. I did put in for the Next Jamb, however I already made up my mind to continue with studying Soil science. During the university days as well, I was opportune to travel to Songhai farms for a training on integrated and sustainable agriculture, this further ignited my passion for agriculture and today am so happy to be a Soil scientist/Agronomist.

Q3. What aspect or nature of work in Agriculture do you practise in your work? Tell us about your interactions and experiences with farmers in your work?

Ans: Right from my university days, I have been involved in capacity building of smallholder farmers in different aspects. As an Harambe Nigeria fellow, myself and eight other young agri fellas worked with farmers in a particular commodity in Osun state and trained them on safe handling of pesticides, processing of their cassava into garri and storage/preservation of their vegetable products and fruits. It was quite an interesting experience. And for some years now, I have been involved in training farmers on improved/modern farming technologies through the establishment of demonstration plots which is thereafter used as a practical platform to train farmers. I have also been involved in training of youth spray service providers (YSSP) on safe and responsible handling of agrochemicals which includes both classroom facilitation as well as field demonstration. Moreso, I am also involved in the training of Agro input dealers for effective service delivery of agro inputs to farmers. Generally speaking, my activity centers around capacity building of major stakeholders in the farming community- smallholder farmers, agro dealers, spray service providers also called spray gangs.

Training of agro input dealers

 

 

Q4. What societal problems are you solving with your work and what solutions are you using in technology and practises? What are the hurdles currently being faced?

Ans: My activities have been solving problems that relate to environmental pollution from incessant application of agrochemicals, as well as helping farmers increase their yield through the use of improved technologies they have received training on. The challenges being faced is that farmers are somehow difficult to convince about the use of a new/improved technology and this is why the concept of demonstration plot is used when training farmers.

Q5. What do you think about youth participation in Agriculture?

Ans: In recent times, there seems to be an improvement in that regard probably because of the issues surrounding the oil and gas sector at the present moment. In addition, there are a number of similar activities just like Agropreneur Naija who are also involved in sensitizing youth in agriculture. By and large, I think youth participation in agriculture is on the increase. I have a number of young friends who are also involved in agriculture in one way or the other- production, processing, capacity building, marketing and lots more, however, it will be very interesting to see more youth venture into agriculture, the older generation are gradually fading off and the baton has to be taken by the young people.

Q6. What do you think are challenges of youth participation in agriculture, how has this affected Agricultural productivity in Nigeria?

Ans: One critical challenge about youth participation in agriculture is the drudgery. Ask youth about agriculture and the excuse they give is that it could be stressful, truth be told, yes, infact sometimes at the peak of the season, I get stressed up as well but tell me, which job doesn’t have its own kind of stress? Secondly, funding is also a major challenge, there’s no business that can run without some capital. Furthermore, the generation of youth we have these days are somewhat impatient, no matter the crops/animal you raise, it will take some time to get to maturity for sale and get some profit, and however youth are not interested in that kind of waiting, and they just want quick money.

Checking maize seedlings for pest attack

Checking maize seedlings for pest attack

 

Q7. Where do you see yourself in the next 5- 10 years from now?

Ans: In the next 5-10 years, I desire to own my personal commercial farm that will have both plant and animal section. I will also continue building the capacity of farmers most especially women farmers and I desire to be a mentor to female Agropreneurs.

Q8. What advice do you have for young people engaged in agriculture?

Ans: Agriculture is a very broad sector, my advice is they should be focused and get the best out of the aspect they are focused on, ask questions and get more knowledge.

Q9. What do you think government should put in place to improve the agric sector in Nigeria?

Ans: I am of the opinion that through a sort of public private partnership, the government of each state should establish modern farming centres with the kind of capacity and infrastructures that the popular Obasanjo farms has and employ people both skilled and unskilled labour to work there. I am assured that if this is done, aside providing employment for a good number of people, food production and distribution will also be increased. Aside this, government should put forward policies that will favour the small holder farmers and help him be able to sell his farm produce at the best market price. In the northern part of the country, more irrigation schemes should be constructed to enable farmer’s crop during the dry season. Furthermore, the growth enhancement support scheme (GES) of the last administration in which agro inputs were distributed to farmers at subsidized should continue and be made sustainable, however the process and approach should be reviewed in order to achieve optimal result.

A lifestyle of Passion and Hardwork – Atinuke’s story on her Agribusiness and challenges

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Atinuke on the farm

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.

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Atinuke harvesting her corn from the farm.

Q7:  How many acres is your farm?

Answer: 10acres

Q8: Is farming your only source of income?

Answer: YES

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?

Answer: YES!

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

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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?

Answer: YES

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.

Follow her on Twitter , Linkedin

 

 

“……I single handedly trained and financed 200 birds capacity broiler farm” – Musa Ibrahim

Musa in the poultry house

Musa in the poultry house

Musa Ibrahim CEO Baruwa Integrated Nig. Enterprise – Is an agricultural engineer by training. His love for agriculture has given him the opportunity to explore all options he can, especially as it relates to agribusiness. He is one of the young agropreneurs who has stood despite the odds and challenge of Nigeria’s agricultural system to succeed. Musa stands out as one who is practising agriculture in different states of Nigeria by linking farmers up with value chain products they need from Bauchi, Minna to Oyo state, Nigeria.

In this interview Musa Ibrahim talks about how growing up was like as a first son of a family of three, brought up by a single father. He talks about his service year project of a 1000 layer bird farm capacity. He currently has established himself in his poultry endeavour as a professional in poultry farming (Layer and breeder flock Management), and also processing, packaging and marketing of Agricultural products.

Musa Ibrahim is rich with optimism, and he believes despite the challenges being faced, the Nigerian youth should never give room for doubt as this (agribusiness), is the right place to be as Nigeria turns towards agriculture. He shares his unique story:

Q. Can you briefly introduce yourself? How was growing up like for you?

Ans: My name is Ibrahim Musa Albaruwa, CEO Baruwa Integrated Nig. enterprise. A business man by passion with interest in Agriculture, and an Agricultural Engineer by training. Graduated from the prestigious Federal university of Technology, Minna. Growing up in Minna was fun. I am the first son in a family of three children and a single father. Growing up for me was a unique experience. My dad a civil servant, served as a teacher and was a disciplinarian; my mum, a gentle and loving woman never had the chance to be with her children. While I was young I met my dad doing something aside teaching in the classroom, he plants foodstuffs for his family needs, he had a large family to feed, and by that way he does it without stress.

Q. Can you please tell us how you came into farming/agribiz?

Ans: I gave farming my first shot in 2010, during my internship, I single handedly trained and financed a 200 birds capacity broiler farm. Later during my service year I made a proposal that brought about a 1000 birds layer farm capacity, which right now its capacity is doubled. Right now am on my second breeder farm management project for Ande-Ola Unique concept.

Q. What societal problems are you solving with your work and what solutions are you using? What are the hurdles currently being faced?

Ans: My work as a CEO Baruwa Integrated is to create a platform to empower myself and fellow Nigerian youths to solve the endemic problems of unemployment. Also to serve as an inspiration and an example towards self-actualization in the Agricultural sector of our Nation’s Economy.

Q. What do you think about youth participation in Agriculture?

Ans: Currently now I believe in the spirit of the Nigerian youth but also realized youth participation in Agriculture is still very low.

Q. What are the challenges of youth engagement in agribusiness as it relates to what you do, How do you think it is affecting Agricultural Entrepreneurship in Nigeria?

Ans: The challenges facing Nigerian youths, militating against their active participation in Agriculture is the lack of basic amenities in the rural areas where agricultural projects are mostly located.

Q. What advice do you have for young people engaged in agriculture?

Ans: For all those young people currently in the industry, I implore you guys to keep the light burning in you, never give room for a doubt for you are in the right place and being there right now, I would say this is the right time.

Q. What do you think government should put in place to improve the agric sector in Nigeria?

Ans: Providing social amenities in the rural areas, such basic necessities for farmers includes electricity and pipe born water as most farms and agricultural activities are located in the rural areas.

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Cross-sectional View of the Poultry House

From Economist to Poultry Farmer: The ‘Ella Clinton Story!

 

20150718_112254Many young people have continued to defile all odds and built sustainable agribusinesses that stand the test of time, create employment and help generate wealth. Particularly of interest are young women who stand out in doing farming as a business.

In this piece we bring to you our interview with 29 year old CEO of Nuela Clintons Farm who 3 years old moved away from urban Lagos to rural Ogwashi Uku in Delta state to start her poultry farm focusing on egg production and is doing really well. Her farm currently generates profit of over #300,000 monthly.

Q: Can you please introduce yourself?

A: My name is Emmanuela Clinton, CEO Nuela Clintons Farm, located in Aniocha South Local Government Area in Delta State. I have a BSc in Economics bagged from Covenant University Otta, Ogun State.

Q: How was growing up for you?

A: I was born in Lagos Island, started schooling at Nazareth Nursery\ Primary School Festac Town and finished at Lagos State University Staff School {LASU}. I had my Secondary School at St Roses Girls Grammar school, Ogwashi Uku in Delta State, there I grew up with my grandparents and proceeded to Covenant University for a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. Served and worked in Lagos before I commenced my poultry farm in January, 2013.

Q: Considering you do not have a background in agriculture either via your parent or by studying in the school how did you get into poultry business?

A: On the 10th of September 2012 my birthday, I asked God to give me a birthday gift, as I was reading through the bible that morning, God told me that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were farmers and he multiplied their cattle. I told God I cannot rear cattles then came the idea of poultry. I do not have a background in Agriculture; it’s simply an inspiration from God.

Q: How did you build your skill base in poultry?

A: I attend seminars and practical training on poultry farming. Recently, I travelled to Dubai for an International Conference on Poultry Farming. All these help me to improve my skills and do my business more effectively.

Q: How much capital can a youth have who wants to go into your type of farming?

A: The capital, a youth who wants to go into poultry farming (Egg production) should have will depend on the size of the farm. I started with about #300,000

Q: How do you promote agribusiness development through social media?

A: I promote agribusiness development through Social media by posting pictures of every exhibition I attend. I also join groups focused on agriculture and youth involvement which gives me the opportunity to share experiences and see what others are doing. This keeps me going and alert to opportunities around me.

Q: How do you access labor or do you do most of the work on the farm yourself?

A: I employ young people in my neighborhood and they do most of the work on the farm. At the moment we have staff strength of 3 persons.

Q: Have you gotten any level of support from the government or other organizations?

A: Yes I have benefitted from a few grants and loan scheme. But I must be quick to mention that they were mostly possible because they funders could see prove of seriousness and continuity in my business.

Q: What challenge do you face with your business at the moment?

A: The challenge I face on my farm is high demand for my product, hence the need for expansion. At the moment I have over 2000 birds that lay eggs producing about 40 crates per day. Many times I have daily orders of 100 to 150 crates. I usually have to source from other farmers whom I trust their products to meet my demand.

Q: Where do you see your farm in 5 – 10 years’ time?

A: My farm has also branched into Consultancy. Helping and motivating people who have flare for farming and thus far, we have assisted more than 20 people start and establish their own farms. In the coming years, we would do more of this while we work on expanding production and someday hope to be one of the biggest farms in Delta Stare

Q: What advice do you have for young people planning to engage in Agriculture be it farming or other aspect of the value chain?

A: Any young person planning to engage in farming should embrace agriculture with both hands because people cannot stop eating. Discover your place in agriculture and passionately grow your business.

Farming has definitely not changed Emmanuella from been a youth she still spends her leisure swimming and shopping for dresses.

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Me and the ‘wonder crop’

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Nigeria cultivates a large array of food and cash crops among which rice has emerged as the fastest growing sub-sector and a popular staple food, especially for urban dwellers. Rice is cultivated in virtually all of Nigeria’s agro-ecological zones. These versatile attributes make it a unique crop with various potentials for enhancing productivity, thus this had made rice to be specially named the ‘wonder crop’.

Enhancing rice productivity through modern knowledge

I recently participated in a 5-day Capacity building workshop on Best Practices for Rice Production in Nigeria by the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), Badeggi, Niger State, in partnership with CORAF/ WECARD with funding from USAID.

The main objective of the event was to equip participants with modern knowledge in order to enhance rice productivity and profitability. Promoting the uptake of improved rice production technologies, agronomic practices, new varieties, enhance institutional and organizational capacities of farmer’s organizations leads to improved access to services to its members, and increased access to profitable markets for small holder rice farmers in Nigeria.

During the workshop, several agricultural professionals trained us on vital areas of modern rice production covering some like: rice growing environment, field establishment and methods of planting, growth phases and physiology of plant, integrated nutrient management for increased rice yields and production in Nigeria, amongst many others.

My journey as a young agriculturist

After the technical sessions, we went to NCRI Rice research and production fields as well as farmers’ fields in order to get on-farm knowledge and practices through the research scientists, superintendents and farmers. This properly equipped me with the knowledge and skills to contribute my quota meaningfully towards achieving the ambitious goal of rice sufficiency by the end of 2015.

My journey as a young agriculturist has been very fulfilling and though challenging, the opportunities that lie at the end of every milestone have kept me going due to my strong passion for agriculture. My first field experience as an agriculturist was in 2011 at the Teaching and Research Farm, University of Agriculture Makurdi during my six months Industrial Training. We were involved in the production of rice, maize, cowpea, soybean and cassava. I recorded the highest yields from my rice plot and made good sales from them. I also worked with rice farmers during the extension work. Since then I have developed keen interest due to the potentials of this ‘wonder crop’.

Nigeria – an arising Agriculture Power House

I am a corps member serving with NCRI Badeggi currently under the rice research program. Hence, I work with senior colleagues and rice farmers to ensure the research we carry out is relevant and applicable to solving the current challenges rice farmers are experiencing. We are conducting field trials on new accessions that have just been breed. There are a lot of boundless opportunities across the rice value chains ranging from production through processing and storage to marketing and so forth.

When rice farmers have access to viable and high yielding seeds from research institutes, reputable seed companies, National Agricultural Seed Council, ADPs and Ministries of Agriculture as well as other inputs such as adequate fertilizers, effective agro pesticides, credit and loans, modern production and processing technologies such as mobile soil testing kits, Sawah eco-technology and enabling infrastructure are provided. When these are provided through government assistance, then Nigeria can once again be on the path to rice sufficiency which will mark the end of rice importation. This is a sure path to wealth, job creation and food security.

For as we do, I have every faith not only that we shall succeed, but that, through our passion and efforts, our Nation will once again be able to hold up its head high within the community of nations and be a food basket for Africa and the world. Together, we can be great again! Today our future lies before us. I can see Nigeria arising as an Agriculture Power House. Nigeria will arise, my friends. Agriculture was Nigeria’s past and agriculture is Nigeria’s great future!

Picture credit: Rice fields, by Jose A. Warletta.

 

First published on Ypard website

YAP OF THE MONTH MAY’2014-Gbenga Akinyele

EDITOR NOTE: Davies Okeowo sends this in from Ogun State where he interviews 16 year old Gbenga Akinyele who has picked interest in backyard farming. To be specific snail rearing. Gbenga’s experience is worth sharing. And thus we recognize him as our Young Agropreneur of the Month of May 2014

 

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Over the past few years, there has been a growing call for Africa’s youth to embrace agriculture. This is of great essence as the agricultural sector has been neglected by youths in favor of careers in the “booming” industries such as telecommunications and banking. A large number of African youths see agriculture as a “career for the aged”. Unknown to many, the agricultural sector is one of the most lucrative sectors in the global economy; one of the very few industries where demand overwhelms supply. Not only is the agricultural industry a massive one, it is also an indispensable one…hence, the call for more youths in agriculture.

In recent times, I have learnt a lot about agriculture. My biggest lesson though (which I gladly share with everyone I meet) is that agriculture is one of the few businesses you can start without capital. This is a major lesson, and I learnt it from 16 year old Gbenga Akinyele.

“Tell your son to come by my house today; i have some snails picked up for him”. I was quite startled when my mum made that remark while making a phone call. Who was the boy who needed snails? What does he need them for? Why snails? I definitely have to find out…and that’s exactly what I did.

I met Gbenga, had a chat with him and agreed to drop by his house to interview him. He was quite shy but he consented. On a Saturday morning I made my way to his house and to my amazement, I met Gbenga, his mum, and little brother clearing and cleaning their little farm and the environment. After exchanging greetings and a tour of the little farm, my curiosity took control.

 Can we meet you
Gbenga: My names are Akinyele Gbenga Timilehin. I am from a family of five, and the second born of my parents (first boy). Presently, I am a WAEC candidate for the 2014 May/June exam.

 I observe some ‘greens’ around your house; I can see a very small farm portion and a snail farm as well. How did all these come about?

Gbenga: It’s just a passion of mine, especially the snail farming. When I am less busy, the snails are the ones I devote my time to.

How and when did it all start?
Gbenga: It all started nine months ago when we moved to our own site. I always see the snails moving around the compound. So I and my brother decided to start picking them. From that point on, we started taking care of them.New Picture (1)

Having done this for about nine months, how has been the experience so far?
Gbenga: A bit stressful. Having to clean their (the snails) house, give them food, and the likes is tasking. Every morning you have to clean all over…it’s a lot of stress

 If it’s a lot of stress, why do you keep doing it?

Gbenga: I keep doing it because i have a passion for it.

 Can you put an estimate on the number of snails you have now?
Gbenga: I can’t tell they are quite much.

What do you plan to do with them?
Gbenga: When they grow big, I plan to sell them. There are some radio programs I listen to where people are taught on how to export snails; I have their phone numbers.

Have you sold any?
Gbenga: No, not yet

 Have you eaten any?

Gbenga: No, I have not

 Okay. I can see lots of tiny ones as well which i guess are the baby snails. How did you separate the adults from the young ones?
Gbenga: Early in the morning or late in the evening, the baby snails do come to the surface of the sand. From there, we handpick them all.

 Do your colleagues in school know that you do such a thing?
Gbenga: No they don’t

 What is your parents’ reaction to this venture of yours?
Gbenga: My mum supports me. She takes care of them when I am not at home. For instance, I wasn’t around yesterday so she helped me to clean and feed them.

 That’s amazing. You mean she didn’t scold you or try to stop you when you started?
Gbenga: Initially, she was neutral about it. However, when she saw how serious we were about snail farming, she tagged along.

Interesting. I can see some greens as well. What plants are these?
Gbenga: Basically vegetables of all sorts. Ewedu(Corchorus), Bitterleaf, and WaterleafNew Picture (3)

Did you plant them as well?
Gbenga: Yes, I did

 You obviously have a passion for snails. Are you passionate about vegetables too?

Gbenga: Actually, I just decided to plant them myself because most vegetables you eat these days are grown with the aid of fertilizers. I want to eat the fresh and natural ones, so that prompted me to plant them.

And have you been eating from them?
Gbenga: Yes, we have

How do you balance your schooling and farming?
Gbenga: My mum has taught me to manage my time properly through prioritizing. When it’s time to study, I study; when I am less busy, I take care of my snails.

So what are your future aspirations?
Gbenga: I intend to study nautical science in the university. Those that study nautical science end up in the maritime sector, working on ships.

So you want to be in the Navy?
Gbenga: i want to be a merchant navy. I want to be the captain of ships that import and export goods.

Okay then, i hope you become all you wish for, plus a very successful farmer
Gbenga: Thank you sir.

Gbenga’s story is one that every youth can learn from. His passion led him to farming and he did not have to raise capital to start. He is dedicated to what he does and manages his time well in between school and farming. At 16, he already has plans to export his produce, and is already feeding from his own efforts.

The value chain in agriculture is very wide and opportunities abound therefore, we as youths should tap into these huge opportunities. By so doing, we will not only build a financially rewarding career, but we will also be contributing immensely to the elimination of food shortages and related problems across the world; just like Gbenga Akinyele…one snail at a time.