New Generation Farmers are Emerging' Read This Farmer's Success Story, It will Help You Start Something by 2016

Before now, many young Nigerians saw agriculture as a venture without future. To them, it was not capable of giving them a means of livelihood. However, this impression is changing with an increasing number of young agro-entrepreneurs  achieving a lot through agric ventures, DANIEL ESSIET reports.
In the past, many saw agriculture as a career that entailed life-long labour on farmlands. This view is, however, fast-changing as a crop of new young agric entrepreneurs are coming up.

They are doing well, harvesting thousands of hectares of cash crops, fruits and vegetables for local  consumption and export, and smiling to the bank.
Chief Executive, Natural Nutrient Limited,  Sola Adeniyi, is one of them.
Adeniyi, a Business Administration graduate  identified a gap in the market for moringa and made haste to fill it by setting up a business devoted to the product. Since he began the business, the demand for moringa has increased. He has made a success of his venture
Adeniyi said young agric entrepreneurs have incredible potential to make agriculture dynamic, and fill a growing market gap which engages the youth.
He said his  business  which  began as a micro initiative is an example. He  has since  built  it  into a successful company, supplying  moringa, plantain and other produce to the  market.
Adeniyi started with growing  moringa for a market he identified early enough.
He first tested the market by supplying a small number of processed products and the result was astonishing to him.
As his company produced, packaged and distributed it in commercial quantities, sales increased overwhelmingly. Along the line, he considered adding value to it.  Consequently, he began producing moringa tea.  Gradually, the tea became very popular among the health-conscious.
He has  so  far   diversified into moringa body butter, capsule, oil, soap and  powder.
To  help  those considering  investing in moringa production, Adeniyi organises training and demonstration  sessions and  assists  them  with disease -free plantlets to start their farms.
Having achieved success, Adeniyi is convinced that young men can make it in agriculture with resilience, tenacity and determination.
This is because of the immense opportunities available for new comers in the industry.
He has  established  a plantain  estate  to help busy  Nigerians, who need a joint  venture arrangement  to  run their agro-businesses while keeping their day jobs. He is one of the emerging agro-business tycoons in Ogun State today.
But, the success stories in agric-business are not wrapped around  men alone. Women agro entrepreneurs are equally doing well.  Their impact has continued to draw attention and they have proved to be a force to reckon with.
Findings show that women agro entrepreneurs are active at all levels. One of them is  the founder & Chief Implementation Officer, Honeysuckles PTL Ventures, Cynthia Mosunmola Umoru. She  is engaged in food production, processing and distribution.
She is also the founder of Farmshoppe, a retail outlet.
Her company distributes livestock produce to fast food companies and restaurants in Lagos. One of her farms is also used for research and training of young farmers.
During her university days, Ms Umoru was  shopping for women, who were busy executives and could not find the time to go to the market.
She  then thought  of setting  up a nice posh market where such women could come to pick their fresh food produce at competitive prices. That gave birth to Farmshoppe. Initially, she was   supplying a few quick service restaurants, but they were not  paying on time and this affected the business cash flow.  She  revisited her business plan and changed the strategy to reduce debts  and  increase output.
Farmshoppe has evolved with   different outlets and franchises.
The  business  has  a standard retail outlet and a 25-hectare farmland in Ogun State.
The  business focuses on high-quality food products using modern packaging and fast delivery, and has its own farms and ponds.
Having achieved so much, Ms Umoru is  focusing on ways to get a new generation of young people interested in modern agriculture.
What she  does  is to get them   started on the path to their own successful agric-businesses. And for those whose interests have already peaked, Umoru provides the quality training missing in the general sector to help modernise their ventures.
She also engages schools, governments and businesses to recognise the effect of the absence of infrastructure is having on youth participation  in modern agriculture.
Ms Umoru takes students to her farm and combines them with a broader group of aspiring young agribusiness entrepreneurs who have approached her for advice on different aspects of their budding agribusinesses.
Together, both groups witness a real-life example of a modern agribusiness.
During a year-long apprenticeship with Honeysuckles PTL Ventures, participants are  taken   through all aspects of the value chain, from production to processing.
Those with  existing  agribusinesses learn modern skills and ideas to incorporate into their endeavours. She then works with them to secure the land, much of which was otherwise lying fallow, and other resources to turn their ideas into reality.
Also, some young  farmers are warming up to growing crops in commercial quantities having been inspired by Zanau Hassan Maikasuwa, President, Farmfields Agro-Allied Services, in Taraba State.
Maikasuwa is  one   of  the young  farmers thriving in crop  farming. From humble beginnings, his company  has   grown crops  on several acres of land . This has driven  him  to    expand   his  business   to meet the rising demand for crops from neighbouring northern states.  He  also  has  a livestock segment.
While he is celebrated as  a success today,  Maikasuwa  said  his   interest in large-scale farming  followed  early exposure  to the business as a child.
When it was time to attend university, he  was admitted to read agriculture even though he  had applied to study medicine.
Subsequently, he  became more passionate about farming and dreamt of becoming an agropreneur.
On graduation, he went into farming business.  He started the business with support from his   family.  Since then, the business has grown.  To  create a legacy, Maikasuwa  is  empowering  more farmers.
His  target  is   farmers who plan to expand and those who  want  to   move from peasant to commercial production.
His other  compatriot  is  Clifford Eborgu, Chief  Executive, Sendulus Consulting, Oyo State.
Since  plantain is primed among leading commodities in returns to farmers, Eborgu is  leading  a campaign  to get  young  entrepreneurs  involve  in it for income and food.
For him, plantain farming  is  the way  to go.  Through his effort and others, small scale plantain  production is now on the increase and  the initiative has been so successful such that there is now a danger of  plantain surplus.
To a lot  of young  entrepreneurs,   opportunities in agriculture   are enormous.  As a result, many investors and companies are pouring into the sector. Some focus on supplying seeds while others offer all kinds  of  services. The area of services  has become a destination for a great number of young educated agro entrepreneurs.
Chief Executive Officer, GIG-World Limited , Wole Oluwole, is  one entrepreneur who is luring urban professionals back to land. His service is also a field that fattens bank accounts.
Many companies and individuals that see potential in farming are venturing into it and they seek his advice.  Since the   potential in agric business   is huge and is an opportunity that must not be missed, he is inviting investors to the sector with an assurance for mutual benefit.
Chief  Executive, The Thy Consulting Limited, Ismail Abdulazeez, is one  farmer whose life has greatly improved thanks to discovering  the hidden fortunes  in grasscutter and snail farming.
As a child, he had passion for agriculture, having been involved in subsistence farming with his parents. He developed so much interest in farming that he had vowed that no matter how much academic certifi cate he obtains, he would still be a big farmer.
After suffering misfortunes that led to his loss of job, he  retired  to his own house at Ewupe Ijaniye Village, Sango Otta, Ogun State. Incidentally, it was at that point that the journey into his dream job of being a big time farmer started to materialise.
Being a new site, he  and  his wife  started seeing snails here and there and picked them. He decided to check the articles on snail farming he   has been keeping and in one of the articles, he  came across the name of one man called Mr. Bright. He traced him and attended some of his seminars. After the trainings, he did his own research and started his own farms. As God would have it, everything started flourishing.
For him, market for his snails has never been a problem as there were ready-made markets.
According to him, snail farming has been adjudged to be one of the most lucrative farming ventures presently with far less capital investment and bountiful returns. It has lower risk compared to other livestock farming, while virtually every part of snail is of vital use in food, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and fishing industries. He noted that snail is an export commodity that has value next to gold in overseas.
Having conquered the snail business as it were, Abudlazeez also plunged into grasscutters raring business. Like he did when he started the snail business, Abdulazeez said he went as far as Ghana, Republic of Benin and Ivory Coast to see how they set up standard grasscutters farms.
Today, his farm hostels at least 200 grasscutters  which  are  slaughtered for sale to grocery stores, restaurants and hotels.
The business also provides money to feed his family and pay school fees for his children that attend private schools. A few years ago, he was able to buy some plots of land , bought a car and at least 10 acre property to establish  and   promote  his export business.
His success story has proved the huge and largely untapped potential of  young  agro entrepreneurs.
There are  intervention to  encourage  more young Nigerians  to explore  farming and agribusinesses.
These are based on the need to upgrade  the value chains and  creation of more agro enterprises.
The West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP-Nigeria) is taking  steps  to  support  the  Agriculture Graduates Association of Nigeria (AGAN).
WAAPP, through  the Rice Value Chain Innovation Platform  is  training  future  agro entrepreneurs to use   improved rice  seeds  to increase  yields, reduce the cost of production, improve  quality and ensure sustainable cropping.
WAAPP said: “An agro-entrepreneurial group made up the Agriculture Graduates in Nigeria have successfully piloted three cycle rice production programme in Niger State in a bid to avail rice seeds to the Nigerian farmer.
“The Agriculture Graduates Association of Nigeria (AGAN), a private sector-driven extension programme for young knowledgeable farmers (Agric. Entrepreneurs), achieved this by introducing organic farming using the System of Rice Intensification (SRI).’’
The  leader of the association, Mr Hassaini Ilyasu, durng the inauguration of the second cycle at Sheshi Bikun, Niger, said  the journey towards sustainable food security had began with a successful collaboration with WAAPP-Nigeria and other partners.

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