The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has projected that the agricultural sector in the state could generate as much as $10 billion within the next 5 years.
This is as the governor noted that Lagos could no longer afford to rely exclusively on other states for its food, adding that it was time to unlock its immeasurable agricultural potential through the implementation of the 5-year roadmap.
This disclosure was made by the Governor at the formal launch of the state’s 5-year Agricultural and Food Systems Roadmap, on Thursday, adding that most of the investments would be private sector-driven while the government acts as the catalyst and enabler.
Governor Sanwo-Olu opined that the Roadmap would also lead to wealth generation, value creation, food security, the industrialisation of the agricultural sector and the entrenchment of inclusive socio-economic development of the state.
He said that the roadmap essentially focuses on 3 pillars, which are: growth of the upstream sector, growth of the midstream and downstream sectors as well as improvement of private sector participation.
What the Lagos State Governor is saying
Sanwo-Olu, in his words, said, “Our strategies for sustainable Agricultural Development shall focus on three pillars. First, we will grow the upstream sector through interventions by leveraging technologies that are capable of lowering the cost of production of value chains; Focus on growing the midstream and downstream sectors that are of value and lastly, we will improve on private sector participation by developing and initiating policies that will encourage more private investments in agriculture.”
The projection is that the total investment in the Agricultural Sector from the government, private sector, donor agencies and development partners will run into over $10 billion in the next five years. While we expect most of the investment to be private sector-driven, the government will continue to provide the needed infrastructure while the private sector will be encouraged to lead the key projects.’’
The governor pointed out that the state had already started the revamping of its Agricultural Land Holding Authority (ALHA) to support investment in agriculture, giving assurance that the coconut belt would also be strengthened with increased private sector involvement.
Sanwo-Olu listed some State’s landmark investments that will aid smooth delivery of the Roadmap to include the Lagos State Aquatic Centre of Excellence (LACE) that would boost fish production from 20% to 80%, the Imota Rice Mill, the Lagos Food Production Centre Avia, Igborosu-Badagry as well as other statewide agriculture-focused initiatives.
He said, “I am greatly encouraged by the interest already generated in the Five-Year Agricultural Roadmap and I hope it will be sustained and backed with concrete action on the part of our development partners and the international community. I assure you that the Lagos State Government is putting in place deliberate incentives to make your investment safe, secure and profitable.’’
Sanwo-Olu, therefore, urged potential and established stakeholders in the agricultural sector to partner with the state in order to transform the agricultural sector for food security, wealth generation, poverty eradication, economic diversification, rapid industrialisation and accelerated socio-economic growth.
This is a very laudable initiative from the Lagos State Government especially at a time the country is looking at diversifying its economy. The successful implementation of this programme with the expected benefits from the value chain will contribute significantly to the economic development of the state and the country in general.
The investment in the transformation of agriculture to agribusiness is one way of achieving the dream of attaining self-sufficiency in food production and creating more wealth.
With high prices of food and subsistence farming largely practiced across the country with the least use of machines for food production, the Federal Government, yesterday, expressed readiness to galvanize food production with 60, 000 tractors and other agricultural interventions.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Nanono, while receiving participants of the Senior Executive Course (SEC) NO 43(2021) of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Plateau State, at the headquarters of the Ministry.
According to Nanono, the proposed 60,000 tractors will drive agric mechanization that would revolutionize the sector across various value chains and will attract more investments and personnel in food production, supply, distribution, and access that would lead to availability and affordability.
He also maintained that the government has put in place measures that would accelerate food production and that the current hike in the price of food items across the country is currently being addressed, especially from the security perspective. He maintained that the mechanisation programme of the Federal Government would metamorphose into a paradigm shift from subsistence practice to commercial agro-industrial farming.
He added that the shift will bring about massive food production, procurement of agricultural processing plants, fertilizer production, enhanced value chains, and among others.
Speaking further the Minister asserted that the move on mechanization would enhance local technologies evolution with over 600 Private Sector Driven Services centers, equipped, tractors, farming implements, storage, and IT Facilities.
He said: “This would address the challenge of feeding the nation’s growing population and achieving food sustainability, create jobs for teeming Nigerian youths, and boost the economy.
“The ministry’s plans to increase agricultural extension workers to 75,000 on various value chains for efficient will make the nation attain food production and self-sufficiency status.”
Meanwhile, the leader of the delegation who is Director of Studies, (NIPSS), Prof Olufumilayo Para-Mallam, Director of Studies (NIPSS), expressed delight to be at the ministry for the interactive discourse on agricultural policies of the ministry.
“The theme for the SEC 43, 2021 as approved by Mr. President, is ‘Getting Things Done: Strategies for Policy and Programme Implementation, the ministry is critical to sustainable development and diversification of the economy.
In an address of welcome, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr Ernest Umakhihe stressed that policy and programme implementation remain the nucleus of delivering public good because the government rides on them to meet the expectation, yearnings, and aspirations of the people, as they are vital and critical aspects of good governance, especially for a country that has survived the devastation of COVID -19 pandemic, which is needed now.
While giving a review of agricultural policies in Nigeria, the Director, Planning and Policy Coordination in the Ministry, Zubairu Abduallahi, pointed the need for presidential interventions for integrating agricultural financing and inputs into an agricultural value chain development of the Ministry.
However, according to Abdullahi establishing of Food and Agriculture Trust Fund/Agricultural Development Trust Fund to support value-chain development, research will achieve self-sufficiency competitiveness in the sector including recapitalisation of the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Cooperation and Bank of Agriculture.
Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, made this known in a statement issued by Mrs Juliet Okeh, the Principal Information Officer in the ministry, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Umakhihe, while inaugurating the committee, said that the initiative would promote and ensure the adoption of gender sensitive responsive approaches, plans and programmes in such a way that men and women would have equal access and control of productive resources.
He said that the availability of the policy document was expected to address the vulnerability of women to biases in the agriculture sector, integrate gender perspectives in national planning; create more jobs for women and financial empowerment.
“The ministry is committed to mainstreaming of gender issues in the agriculture sector to achieve food Security, eradicate poverty and hunger in Nigeria,” he said.
Umakhihe said that the National Gender Policy in Agriculture was consistent with the Global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by World Leaders at the UN Summit in New York, U.S. in September, 2015 which underscored the vital role agriculture played in sustainable development.
“Also, it is importance in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of eradicating poverty (SGG-1), ending hunger, achieving food Security,(SDG-2), ensuring healthy lives (SDG-3) and enhancing the empowerment of All Women and Girls (SDG-5); to bridge the gender gap and enhance food Security.
“The agriculture sector has been repositioned as a business through the value chain development and as an alternative to crude oil, therefore efforts should be geared toward the implementation of policies and programmes for the realisation of this government’s initiatives and programmes,” he said.
He called on the committee members to accomplish the onerous responsibility assigned to them to ensure full implementation of the 11 elective objectives of this policy document for positive outcome.
The Director, Special Duties in the Ministry, Mrs Fausat Lawal, said that the policy document was a developmental strategy for poverty reduction and it was expected to empower small scale holder farmers who were predominantly women.
“Women small scale holder farmers constitute about 70 to 80 per cent of the agriculture labour force and they produced the bulk of food for domestic consumption,” she said.
The Country Director, ActionAid, Mrs Ene Obi, lauded the ministry for deeming it fit to inaugurate the National Gender Steering Committee and ensuring that relevant stakeholders were members of the committee.
Obi said that the implementation of a gender policy had been an issue with government policies and therefore commended the ministry’s efforts in identifying the gender gaps in agriculture through the document.
She solicited for the inclusion of executives of the smallholder farmers into the committee and pledged continuous support of ActionAid toward implementation of the policy.
The Chairman of the Committee, Mr Azubuike Nwokoye, thanked the management of the ministry for giving them the opportunity to serve and promised that the committee would deliver on its mandate.
The Lagos State Government announced it is seeking private sector collaboration for Agriculture sector value chain development in livestock feed mills, fisheries and red meat.
This was disclosed by the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, in a statement on Sunday in Lagos.
The Commissioner revealed that the scheme was in line with the State’s five-year strategic agriculture roadmap, as the State identified the 3 main sectors for value chain disruption.
She also added that investment in the sectors would also develop jobs for the industry and boost the State’s GDP growth, through Private Sector collaboration as Lagos residents consume over N5 trillion worth of food annually.
“The objective is to stimulate and encourage more public-private partnerships in the three value chains,” she said.
“When you consider this pool of transactions happening in Lagos, it shows that we are the market. For instance, we demand over 400,000 metric tons of fish on an annual basis.
“But our fishermen and our aquaculture farmers are only able to produce just about 174,000 metric tons with deficit of 200,000 metric tons,” she added.
She also disclosed that the state has 9,000 artisanal fishermen, and bringing more youths into the space will increase the level of fish and seafood being harnessed from our water bodies. Looking at the transactional value on an annual basis, the fisheries sector is worth well over N120billion according to her.
In case you missed it: Nigeria exported agricultural products worth N321.5 billion in 2020, representing a 19.16% increase when compared to N269.8 billion recorded in 2019 and a 6.27% increase compared to N302.28 billion recorded in 2018.
The Head of Agriculture Division, ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, Mr Ernest Aubee, has said that Nigeria was leading in the promotion of Organic Agriculture in the West Africa region.
Aubee said this in his closing remarks at the cocktail event on `Reporting Back Achievements of Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative’ activities in Nigeria for the years 2014-2020 and Award presentation, in Abuja.
He said Nigeria’s efforts in organic agriculture were commendable and timely, as it was coming at a time when people paid attention to what they eat.
“What Nigeria is doing will benefit not only Nigeria, as a country, but also the other 14 ECOWAS member states, and we hope member states will take a cue from your strides so far,” he said.
Aubee, also Chairman, Regional Steering Committee of EOA in West Africa, said EOA had been given a pride of place in the ECOWAS Commission, such that it was driving the organic agriculture initiative for the benefit of the region.
“We must look at how best to mainstream organic agriculture into every sector of the economy, to encourage and promote its sustainability in the region,” he said.
Aubee urged other ECOWAS member states to start work immediately on how best to ensure the mainstreaming of organic agriculture in their lives.
The event had in attendance representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Trade, Industry and Investments.
Also present were the Agriculture Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), NAFDAC and partners of the EOA Initiative in Nigeria.
Earlier, Dr Olugbenga AdeOluwa, the Nigeria Country Coordinator of EOA , reported that the Initiative had the support of the African Heads of States’ 2020 decision EX.CL/Dec.621 (XVII) on Organic Farming, and that Nigeria had been part of EOA processes since 2011.
Mr Oyewole Gbadamosi, the Project Manager, while reporting back on EOA’s achievements, said the goal was to mainstream EOA into national agricultural production systems by 2025, with a view to improving the quality of life of African citizens.
“A database of organic agriculture research on crop and livestock was produced and distributed in strategic institutional libraries in Nigeria; in bridging organic research gaps in the country.
“It also supported the production of the current revised version of Organic Agriculture Standards in Nigeria.
“The initiative has successfully supported one PhD degree programme, while the support of another one is ongoing.
“We also supported eight Masters studies and publication of seven research articles in an international journal.
“The curriculum for a full programme on Organic Agriculture Technology (OAT) in the Colleges of Agriculture has been produced.
”The material is ready to be subjected to pre-critic and national validation workshops, before absorption by the colleges, after approval by the National Board for Technical Education,” he said.
The Project Manager also noted that intensive sensitisation on the benefits of organic agriculture was being promoted by the Initiative.
“We have done a lot of intensive sensitisation on the benefits of organic agriculture with the production of a lot of information and educational materials on organic agriculture in English and different indigenous languages of the country.
”We have over 27 print publications addressing different aspects of organic agriculture.
As part of efforts towards enhancing agricultural production, the Bauchi State government has released the sum of N300 million to the State Agricultural Supply Company (BASAC) as a revolving scheme for fertiliser blending and distribution to farmers in the state.
The state Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, Samaila Adamu Burga disclosed this while declaring open a 5- day training workshop for staff of the BASAC organised in collaboration with Namus Agro – Consult Nigeria Limited, held in Bauchi.
Burga, who emphasised the present administration’s determination towards developing the agricultural sector boost its economy said the scheme was aimed at eliminating all hindrances to availability of the commodity to peasant farmers across the state.
The commissioner said the Company (BASAC) was established in 1981 by government in order to provide succor to the plight of farmers every year.
According to him, “The company is to ensure that the farmers got quality farm inputs in order to boost production. Over the years, the company has done well as can be seen in the produce of our farmers yearly.”
He added that, “in order to ensure that the farmers got fertilizer without hitches, the government has released the sum of N300 million to BASAC as a revolving scheme to procure the commodity from the blending company, sell it to the farmers and go for another round of supply, with that, there will be no break in supply of the commodity.”
He, then urged participants to pay attention to the training in order to be able to serve the people better. According to him, effective service delivery will attract patronage from the farmers.
Earlier, the General Manager, BASAC, Engr. Ibrahim Yushau Isah Duguri, said the company was involved in ensuring farmers in the state got quality service in order to boost produce production.
He also said for effective service delivery, the company has three zonal offices and sales outlets across the state where its services can be accessed by the farmers especially the peasants who do not have the financial backing to make purchases.
The BASAC GM commended the state government for supporting the company in its determination to improve on the agricultural production in the state saying that people of the state are collaborating with the company to boost their businesses.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami has stressed the need for Nigeria to digitalise its agricultural sector in order to foster innovation and create new business opportunities.
Pantami who made the call at a recent webinar on smart agriculture, organised by the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), said some countries like USA, Netherlands, Germany, Israel and Brazil, were already feeding the world because they have digitalised their agricultural sector.
Citing Netherlands, which has a land area of 41,865 square kilometers and rated as the world’s second-largest exporter of food and agricultural produce, Pantami who was represented at the virtual conference by his Special Assistant, Dr. Femi Adeluyi, said seven states in Nigeria, like Niger, Borno, Taraba, Kaduna, Bauchi, Yobe and Zamfara, have land masses either greater than or comparable to that of the Netherlands.
He added that if Nigeria should embrace smart agriculture and digitalise her agricultural sector, the country could become exporter of agricultural products, outside of oil.
According to Pantami, “To adequately utilise digital technology as a platform for stimulating growth in all sectors of the economy through the development of a digital economy for the country, the Nigerian government through the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, developed the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) anchored on eight pillars.”
He said the target was to adopt farmers in all 36 States and 774 LGAs in the country, support and equip them with skills and resources that will make Nigeria one of the leading nations in food sufficiency, security and exportation.
He, however, said it was important for the private sector, academia, development partners and state governments to partner with federal government in the areas of capacity building, smart solutions and services, research and development, finance, among others, in order to develop smart agriculture.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Alhaji Sabo Nanono, who was the special guest, but represented by Mr. Bejide Stephen, from the Federal Minster of Agriculture, said smart agriculture would require heavy initial investments, recurring maintenance cost, strong internet connectivity, as well as high cost of technology devices such as precision sensors, drones, gateways, bots, among others.
President of NCS, Prof. Adesina Sodiya, called on the federal government to provide necessary supports to small and medium scale farmers for efficient transformation to smart farming in Nigeria.
“Smart agriculture has been considered as an innovative technological-based solution for promoting large scale and economical agricultural production.
“It adopts precision agriculture techniques and technologies that aim at improving the efficiency of agriculture to maximise food production, minimise environmental impact and reduce cost,” Sodiya said. The Director- General, Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), Dr. Abimbola Alale, assured Nigerians, that with the satellite, all the smart agriculture technologies could be implemented even in the rural areas. “NIGCOMSAT and its channel partners can provide broadband connectivity through VSATs and TV White Spaces (TVWS) for individual farmers or farmers cooperatives in rural areas,” Alale said.
Participants at the conference, recommended that relevant stakeholders within the smart agriculture industry should adopt IoT based technologies like Sigfox, Agrikoin, among others and collaborate with the indigenous Nigerian Companies championing them. They further called on organisations like Microsoft and others with products in the IoT, Smart Agriculture and Data Analytics domain, for flexible price regime that are region specific to support countries like Nigeria with several smaller holder farmers.
They advised government to set up a model smart farms in all the six geopolitical regions of the country, and called on the National
Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), to consider it as part of its innovation programme for this year and work with universities and agricultural research institutes to achieve it.
Ogochukwu Maduako, a graduate of Agricultural Economics and Extensions of Abia State University, is a food processor in Rivers State. She obtained her master’s degree in International Economics and Finance from River State University of Science and Technology.
Ms Maduako started farming in 2017 as a side hustle but resigned fully in 2019 to focus on her business. In this 19th episode of our Women in Agriculture series, Ms Maduako shares her experience on how she turns eggshells into body scrub.
PT: You are into agriculture, what branch of agriculture is that?
Ms Maduako: Actually, we started up owning a plantain farm that belongs to poachers, that’s people that come to steal and we never really profited from the whole farming thing so we went ahead to venture into recycling.
Firstly, we run a company called ifarm. After the whole plantain thing, we didn’t make a profit, and all that poachers kept on stealing whenever plantain was ripe we couldn’t get to harvest it and all. We decided to then think about something that we could do, I came up with the thought of recycling agric waste, but at a point, I was like which of the agric waste will I recycle?
So I went ahead to think of what to recycle. One day I went to a market in Imo State, and I ran into the snail shell and I think the snail shell is rich in calcium. What about recycling it for farmers?
I just felt the snail shell has a lot of advantages. So I spoke to a friend, who is already in snail farming and he said that snail shells are very good and all of that and that recycling snail shells is going to be tougher.
Since I’m just starting, instead of snail shells, why not recycle eggshells? I was like the last time I heard of it was in secondary school, when we actually recycled some into scrubbing powder and that people already know about it and he said what if they don’t?
I went ahead to research and I liked what I saw and there were a lot of details on eggshells on Google and it’s probably something I can do. By then, I was working in an oil servicing firm in Port Harcourt (9 – 5). I just started going to bakeries telling them about their egg shells, indomie and egg spots, restaurants and all of that; that they should keep and I’ll be coming around to pick it.
I arranged a pickup team whereby we go around picking up like twice a week; Tuesdays and Saturdays. For the first one year we got it for free, but when we were now consistent they were like “madam this thing you’re always coming to pick that means there is money in it”.
Then they asked us to start paying so we started paying a little amount of money monthly for the generated eggshells. So we kept on picking and recycling calcium for birds, vegetables like tomatoes and so on. So we formulated them into calcium supplements for farmers, we started talking about it on social media and educating people as people that already know the use were contacting us and purchasing little by little.
While we were looking for a common product people can buy, not necessarily farmers, so I just thought about turning it into scrubbing powder since it’s what everybody likes and everybody can use. I went ahead to start producing scrubbing powder, got the packaging material. We actually formulated our own scrubbing powder made from eggshells and then we took it up that we have scrubbing powder for sale and people were amazed at our packaging so we just kept on pushing the stuff into the market trying to look for buyers.
People were showing interest and trying to buy up and resell, it was a good one but something in me was like “you can get something better why not just think of something else”. I don’t believe in one source of income. I believe in a lot of channels to bring in money so that if this one is not doing well, the other one will definitely do well as such you’ll always have money in your hand.
In 2019, I heard of breed the farmers conference that usually holds in Dubai, I felt it won’t be a bad idea to attend since I’ve not attended any agric conference. I see them on Instagram and other media but I have never been opportune to attend probably because I am in Rivers and most of the time it is held in either Abuja or Lagos. I am not really disposed to travel for them, I was like okay I can try this since I was already planning to travel to Dubai for a vacation so probably travel for the conference and start my vacation after the conference.
When I went, I registered, as it wasn’t free. The first day of the conference I was impressed as I met a lot of people and we exchanged contacts, but something kept coming to my mind that nobody is actually talking about recycling of agric waste or anything related. But only talking about food! food!! food!!!.
How come Dubai doesn’t have farms, no good choice, most of their foods are being imported and all. It didn’t really sink in because all on my mind was how to sell my brand to these people. At some point, I felt this conference really centred on food then during the conference they were taking on packaging and branding and already in my Instagram I do this small tip and one was on branding. We can actually do your branding for you if you have an agricultural product you want to brand you can bring and we’ll help you brand it and all. So when they talked about branding I just felt let me take it up.
Brand for just agric products and people were like that’s true in the agric sector we are not serious about our products, we don’t brand. The second day was still about food. So after the conference I was like okay I’ve not really had a good Nigerian meal in Dubai so I kept asking where I could get a good meal so I got some options and I chose Thezer.
I ordered okro soup and eba. It wasn’t really as fresh as it is in Nigeria, as it was a bit stale but nothing really came to mind as I just ate my food. Then after eating I asked the guy how much my bill was, and he told me how much in their currency. I sharply carried my calculator to convert to naira. It was N11,500 and I asked how can I eat N11,500 for just okro soup and eba?
The guy replied that it’s like that, the cost of bringing in these things and all that. At that point my eyes opened very well that the person bringing in these stuff for them is really making it big. So when I left, the N11,500 didn’t leave my head as I kept thinking of it. I told myself that when I’m back in Nigeria, I’ll start exporting food. So I went on my Instagram and posted that, “Those in the diaspora, what do you lack? What do you need with respect to food?”
People were saying “we don’t have yams, good oil” and the rest but I was not thinking of doing the fresh food aspect; all I was just about the dry one as its something I’m just starting. The whole of December I was thinking about how I’m going to run it, following up on people already in it. I noticed there was a gap and that gap is branding.
They were not really sending it well just doing it in a shabby manner. The package wasn’t really appealing. So I decided to do something more fantastic as I believe the eyes should eat first before the mouth. I chose the item I want to start with palm oil, crayfish, egusi and ogbono.
I then started making enquiries and I started making tags and labels for it. I called my IT guy, he’ll do some and I’ll reject that I want something catchy, that’s how we kept working trying to get out labels right then okay, what will I use to package them? The oil, but for the crayfish, it wasn’t so hard because we had some of our packages for eggshells with little leftover and I started with them.
I put our labels on them and people were like “this is very beautiful” and all of that. As I did that with the crayfish, I kept thinking about the palm oil. How am I going to do this? I stumbled on one post on Jiji about a clear standard pouch for water when going on a picnic or something like that and I was like okay, let me try oil as there’s no harm in trying.
I ordered for the pack, it came and we used it; labelled it and my team said it was good and beautiful. I was asked if it was durable and strong but I was all about the beauty and when I post and people don’t like it we can rebrand. But when I posted it, everyone loved it and the palm oil was our selling point and people were asking for it. Some in the business asked their suppliers if they can get the packs to rebrand theirs.
In fact, palm oil is our breakthrough as those in diaspora keep asking and some have to leave where they were shopping to come to us. We started exporting in two months which is something that most people in the food sector said before you can export you’ll have to meet some tasking requirements but for us we didn’t really encounter any issues as people easily gave us their money to send our products over.
There was this woman we used to export but her charges were outrageous so some people who needed would have to maybe send it to their relatives or friends in Lagos who are coming over to bring it for them. Meanwhile, the sole aim is to export not necessarily to serve this within but those in diaspora. You know that earnings in dollars is preferable to naira. So I decided that I needed to get my export area and the value chain right. I started asking questions and I fell into a good hand; very honest guy. We started off together and are still in business. You order your product, we dispatch and within two to three weeks you pick up your goods. Sometimes it’s less than two weeks and we get back positive reviews. We kept on and in two to three months we kept getting more visibility and people kept referring us to friends, so we started expanding.
We did Canada, Australia, Egypt, Dubai, Ghana and some other countries as we just also turn one year in December 2020. So looking at everything, we noticed that this food aspect is doing well and it’s generating good revenue for the company. Not that we left recycling, but all the recycling, scrubbing powder, calcium supplements was still on going but we noticed that the food aspect (branding and export) was really bringing good revenue to the company. We then decided to exert more pressure on the food aspect and we started telling people we are open to partnership. In fact, we want to get our products into African shops as we are looking for a way to dominate that sector abroad where you can walk into an African store and look for “I farm, You eat” and you can get a product from us like egusi, ogbono, crayfish, okporoko, or oil as these are the five items we are looking to export. We’ve been making plans, trying to get our ticket rights, with NAFDAC and the rest of them, it’s quite difficult but we are trying and I think that’s where we are basically.
PT: The eggshells, you use machines to process them?
Ms Maduako: Yes
PT: How are you able to get the machines?
Ms Maduako: Actually, the machines we use, I acquired from my little earnings as I earlier told you that I worked 9-5. So for now we don’t hire.
PT: Currently, how much do you buy a bag of eggshells?
Ms Maduako: For egg shells, we are registered with some companies like spar where we pay N2,500 monthly of which we get about 13 to 14 bags but it depends on what they use. With the bakery we pay 2000 as it varies among other companies. For the Indomie and egg factories, we pay N1,500 monthly.
PT: You said you went for a conference in Dubai 2019, so do you think that Nigerian farmers can compete globally with farmers across the world?
Yes we can, if only we can get the processes right because all I gathered in the conference I noticed we have a lot of loopholes starting from our ports, the packaging, handling, we have a lot to put in place. We can compete with others because we have a lot of resources that other countries don’t have, but in Nigeria the problem is that we don’t have the right tools to get these goods to the end users. We are struggling to do something we should easily do, because we have all our take except the right tool.
We need to go back to the drawing board which includes the processing, packaging, handling, our port is messed up and government should reduce and make amends on their policies. So that people can easily dive into this aspect of agriculture because if you’re looking at export, it’s very tedious and big as it’s not something the one man, two or even hundred men can handle on their own. But why people shy away from it is because of the export guidelines, the policies around it, the money involved, people will just say they don’t have strength but when you go through the process of preparing the products and it’s time to export.
The rubbish happening at the port, no good road to the port, so government needs to fix the roads and work on the ports. Which will prevent time wastage and quicker and better exports. So we can compete and win in the global markets if everything is put in place and working as expected.
PT: Aside from the challenges in exporting, what other challenges would you say you’ve faced and are currently facing generally as a farmer and a woman in agriculture as you know that women are under regarded in this sector?
Ms Maduako: Firstly, when I started, I didn’t experience this underrating thing because I did not start up thinking profits because people already have this mindset that people in agriculture they look dirty, unkempt, but for me, I started when I worked 9-5 and when I want to go to my farm I put on my coverall, so people ask if I’m sure in doing agriculture, like I’m the one doing all the stuff I did like picking up eggshells and all of that. I don’t really have that “under regarding” issue. For me, the challenges I had are access to grants, we won that access bank grant when they did their grant challenge. But we generally don’t have access to grants. Also, another challenge we have is proceeding certificates like NAFDAC and the rest.
The simplest certificate we’ve gotten as a company is when we registered as an exporting company and the certificate came out the third day after registration. Visibility is also a challenge as in Nigeria, we see people who are not making the sector what it is or what we which it should be are the obscene m ones getting the visibility compared to us that are really putting in the work.
I think these among others are the major challenges we have as a company.
The thing is getting a certificate in Nigeria and having access to grants in Nigeria can be vering tasking, there are no recounted packages for SMEs. The last time I heard NAFDAC was giving discounts to small businesses, I quickly jumped at it but when I called the contact person, she said I should forget all those things so we had to embrace the reality of paying the same amount of what we used to pay. Those are the basic challenges that we have, another challenge is power, I believe it is a general challenge we all have.
PT : So the food you package, how do you get the raw materials to process them?
Ms Maduako: We partner with some local farmers, I grew up in Akwa Ibom State, so that is where we get our palm oil from. When I made up my mind on packaging food stuff, I already knew I was going to go back home when it comes to crayfish and palm oil. We go to some villages in Akwa Ibom, we discuss with farmers so we are sure of what we are buying. We talk with them, tell them what we want, they give us options.
These local farmers will tell you that they don’t make much from good products, they will ask you “How do you want it? “Do you want it mixed with colour or do you want the straight one? They will tell you the truth. Since we are about integrity and promoting agriculture, we don’t want to do something now and tomorrow our integrity will be at stake. Also we patronise the local farmers because we believe we will get it at cheaper rates in order to bridge the margins of profit. We have a lot of people selling crayfish and palm oil so what is really the difference?
We don’t know their quality so we ensure that what we have on our own plate, we don’t want to but chafe and give you, then tell you it is crayfish, we want to buy the real thing. For crayfish we go back to women that harvest from the sea in places like Eket, they fry it we arrange with them. Then transport it down to Port Harcourt where we process them and package for the market. The ones we can get from Port Harcourt like ogbono we make do with them. There are a lot of fishing ports for it so we have access to it.
PT: Processing and packaging sounds like a hard job, already agriculture requires serious labour. Do you employ women to work in the processing department?
Ms Maduako: Of course! 80 per cent of our workforce are women. I employ women because I feel they bring the energy you need into the business. I brought in men because we need their power to carry heavy bags. What people don’t know is that a 50kg bag of eggshell is very heavy. You can’t carry a full bag of the broken eggshell. We need guys in this aspect, like bags of ogbono, egusi, palm oil, those things are very heavy we employ guys to do those work. When we want a good output, our women give us the best.
PT: Your story tells us that you seem to be in the right direction, where do you see yourself in the next five years.
Ms Maduako: I see myself on Amazon and Walmart, I see us as a household name. I see people walk into the supermarket requesting for “I farm, you eat” product even without an advert. I want to see our products sell itself. We see ourselves in different countries in the world.
PT: Comparing yourself with the past four years when you were a 9-5 person, how will you rate yourself now?
Ms Maduako: Money wise, I will not say the inflow of cash has been awesome. Sometimes you feel you are making so much money then one thing just comes and takes the money off. It’s either you have to pay for electricity, community bills, because here in Port Harcourt, we experience a lot of that. Maybe one machine is breaking down at the end of the day, you are going home with little.
I would say on a personal level I have grown, I have built myself. My personal development has been top-notch. It went from 20 per cent to 80 per cent. It has built me emotionally, financially, and physically. Even if I’m not making all the money, I know I am going towards it. In fact, my ex-boss had to chat me up he said: “ah Ogochukwu, I didn’t know you had all of these ideas in you and you did not bring it to my company”. I laughed in my mind I said this man sef, for my boss to reach out to me, I feel I’m doing something very good I don’t think if I was doing bad he will reach out to me.
I am thankful for the challenges; when I resigned, it was rough for me. I left my job in January, February and March I was working on the powder, after I launched it in April, I experienced a downtime. I started questioning myself if this was the best option. I asked myself too many questions but throughout that process, I knew it was shaping me into 2020. I never I felt I was wrong. I kept pushing and I know I have grown. It is not easy to be a business owner, you have a lot of responsibilities. Sometimes your workers have gone but you are on ground to complete some tasks. There is no closing time for me, I work at mid night. I’m the one to meet the client, I’m the one to market the product; all these efforts are to see to the growth of the business.
PT: How many staff do you have?
Ms Maduako: Currently I have seven of them, three in the recycling and then we have four in the processing and p
Agriculture has a huge economic potential in Africa to create wealth and produce enough food to feed her people, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Nanono, has said.
This is contained in a statement on Thursday by Eno Olotu, Deputy Director, Information, in the ministry of agriculture.
Mr Nanono, made this known when he received a delegation from Course 36 of the Kenyan Defence Staff College on a courtesy visit.
“It is important to create and sustain an economy in the sector,” to widen our perspective in the continent,” he said.
Mr Nanono, who expressed delight over the visit, said: “as Africans, we can learn a lot from each other and create a huge market amongst us both in the higher and lower levels.
“The wealth is in Africa; we must take our destiny in our hands to secure the future.
“In spite of the challenges faced by the continent, we must explore the over 60 per cent arable land domiciled in the continent as an advantage to ensure deliberate government policies that will drive the actualisation of food sufficiency and security in the continent.
“We must lay our cards very well, if not we can become slaves in our country,’’ he said.
The minister informed the delegation of the large scale intervention and focus by the Nigerian Government in the sector.
He said these include: the creation of platforms for the development of the food value chain both at the micro and macro levels and from the levels of production to processing.
It also includes the training of more extension workers to provide extension services for smallholder farmers and livestock development.
Others, he said, are mechanisation, strengthening of the research institutes for quality and improved seeds, provision of rural infrastructure for ease of access to the markets by the farmers.
The minister disclosed that the ministry was working hard to create the needed synergy between the agricultural and the industrial sector for the industrialisation of the sector through mechanisation in line with international best practices.
“In Nigeria, we produce what we eat and eat what we produce.
“This catchy phrase has helped in promoting the local rice farmers especially during the lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic and has subsequently increased local rice production in the country.’’
He said the youth were also mobilised through the universities to participate in agriculture as the country seeks to explore its export potentials, adding that more youth were being encouraged to go into farming.
In his remarks, the leader of the Kenyan Defence College delegation, David Samoui, said they were in the ministry to seek information on how Nigeria was running its agricultural policies.
He said that the country was amazed at how Nigeria could feed its over 200million population whereas Kenya was struggling with food security with just a population of 40 million people.
“Nigeria is a good destination to study and to know how agriculture is contributing to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)”.
Mr Samoui also said that the students from the college were expected to develop the best strategies for Kenyans after the study tour.
The delegation, on a regional study tour, were in the ministry to seek knowledge on Nigeria’s agricultural policies to help rejig the Kenyan agricultural policy.