Temitope Matthew Adewole, graduate of crop protection and environmental biology from the University of Ibadan speaks on his farming business in this interview with OLUYINKA ALAWODE
My business is all about commercial farming which is fully mechanised. I started the business -Simeon Farms in 2012. I plant cassava, maize and water melon,. Like many in my age group, I had choices: either to join the bandwagon of white-collar job seekers or become self-employed. I chose to be self-employed and decided on farming, which many young people detest. But while many of my friends were still in search of jobs, within a year of planting five hectares of cassava, inter-cropped with corn and water melon, I was able to raise money to rent a two-bedroom apartment in an housing estate in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital. I have also bought a car for the purpose of overcoming my mobility challenges. I have also been able to assist my younger sister with payment of school fees.
I started with support from a programme tagged Youth Commercial Agriculture Development(YCAD) to encourage youths go into sustainable commercial agriculture and to directly generate employment opportunity for young entrepreneurs, which I keyed into.
I obtained the form for YCAD. The interview was conducted. Out of 1,000 candidates, 150 were picked. I was lucky to be among them. The fund was gotten in kind from the programme, we were not given cash but we were given the inputs necessary for the business to start and run. This support is to the tune of N1.4 million that was given to each beneficiary in kind, not in cash,. Everything we used on the farm was provided and deducted from the N1.4 million. I also added some capital of my own. In just one year of farming,I started earning income.
I still plan to do processing iof my some of the crops I plant such as processing of cassava for garri, because this would be more realisable in terms of resources needed than cassava flour production. With an additional piece of land, water supply and the grinders, I can start production of garri. That way I can double the staff strength because some of the labourers can now be employed on full time.
I also plan to use my knowlege as a graduate of crop protection and environmental biology to go into seed supply to other farmers in the community I do farming to help boost their productivity.
Another support I got is from a Fadama project under the programme. The support from Fadama produced the tractor for my association, – the Osin YCAD Users Cooperative, which is about six farmers. For maintenance of the tractor the association hires it out when not in use. We use the tractor for each of our own farming operations.
I have seen there is a business opportunity in agric equipment hiring service and I am planning to explore that option with support in terms of getting equipment from the government.
The main challlenge is funding to do the processing of the produce on large scale. I also need funding for the other business ideas- seed supplies to other farmers and hiring out of more agricultural implements.
Getting to the farm was a major challenge for me and my staff until I bought a car after the sales of my first farm produce
In Osin where I farm, we have over 400 hectares of cassava and these continue wasting because we do not have processing units where we can process into cassava flour.
If youth-owned businesses like mine can handle agric equipment hiring services, the equipment will get to the farmers on time, it will be quick to generate income for the government who would fund the purchase of the equioment, at the same time it will create employment opportunities for the private hands handling it and the equipment will be well managed and maintained.
When we started initially, getting buyers for the cassava was not difficult at all. But now, we sometiomes have cassava ready and do not get buyers on time but cassava business is worth millions.
I have more than 10 full-time staff and as many as 50 part time staff who get paid on daily basis. We call them when we need them. Farming is a business that has great potentials to create massive employment if the agric entrepreneurs get adequate support to keep expanding their businesses.
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