By Esther Adeyanju
CEO, X-ray farms consulting, Afioluwa Mogaji popularly known as “AfricanFarmer” has said that every areas of agriculture is profitable if one understands its dynamics, during the seminar on SME opportunities in Nigeria’s Agribusiness value chain organised by Convenant Christian Centre in Lagos.
Mogaji who spoke on opportunities in the agricultural sector said that citizens should tap into the wealth of agriculture with the present decline in oil. According to him, “Government has put infrastructures for river basin projects that we need to step up and take advantage of; most of the lands around the country are lying fallow waiting for someone to take charge and things have changed in the country, but has our mindset changed?”
He also noted numerous crop opportunities which participants can tap into and said there will be an upshoot in the price of onions by 100 per cent to 200 percent and thus urged participants to take advantage of the hike in price by being a supplier. He added that there is an expected scarcity of yam flour in year 2016 because of the shortage in yam production this year, “Agriculture is vital and important in Nigeria’s economy of the future, you must key into it.” he said.
In addition, the project leader, Cassava Weed Management project, IITA, Dr. Alfred Dixon said that there must be a change of mindset in order to get youths engaged in agriculture. He thus urged that youths be counselled and proper good technological innovations put in place.
Dixon urged that finance be made readily available to youths, “It is pointless educating and motivating youths on farming without institutional support for start-up.” He said successful models exist for tapping youth potentials in advancing the continent’s agriculture. “There must be a pull and push of technology, youths therefore need to take initiative and innovate positively.”
Financial consultant turned Farmer, Simbi Adeeko motivated participants on her journey into agriculture. She urged participants not to be weighed down by lack of funds at start-up and noted different aspects of agriculture value chain that they can plug into. Those possible plug-in areas are; farming, input and equipment, processing, trade and export, transportation, storage and warehousing, marketing, consulting and financing. She said identifying pay customers and how many one can get, knowing one’s value proposition, putting structures in place and understanding one’s cost exposure are things to consider in planning agribusiness.
Simbi also recommended that one start small before scaling up, have realistic expectations and financial integrity, evaluate actual performance and research while constantly working to improve in the business.
Speaking further is the CEO of Multi-trex Integrated foods plc, Dimeji Owofemi, who spoke on challenges and opportunities in logistics and warehousing. He noted that the major problem in agriculture is in food preservation and urged participants to find a niche to operate within the agricultural value chain.
“The market for cocoa is vast and you don’t have to struggle to sell it, it contributes about 48 percent of Nigeria’s non-oil export. Go back home and grow something.”
Former senior investment adviser to Nigeria’s former Minister of agriculture, Ada Osakwe said there are endless opportunities in Nigeria’s agriculture sector. She said problems such as improved transportation, logistics, cold storage warehousing, market aggregation centres, presents further business opportunities.
“Many challenges face agribusiness investors in Nigeria with the largest being infrastructures followed by finance.”