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Farm excursion fires desire for agribusiness entrepreneurship


The feb study Group

poultry in Songhai

Nothing in contemporary times seems to spark or heighten the desire to become a farmer or expand farming operations more than a practical study tour of a highly successful and profitable farm. This became evident again as a fresh group of agro tourists return from a study tour of Songhai Farm in Port Novo, Benin Republic, (a five-day tour) organised by Hadur Travel and Tours this February.

Apart from producing fresh foods, farms can become even more sustainable and profitable by operating mini-processing plants, training, restaurants to sell farm fresh foods, bars to sell drinks produced on the farm – such as fruit juices, accommodations, which is desirable for holidaymakers or tourists who want to stay close to nature.

Farms can also ensure that nothing is wasted by using wastes in some sections as raw materials in other sections; all these are practised in Songhai Farm Centre. But interestingly, for every mechanisation and large-scale production, the farm has a mini farmland of about one hectare, where every production on large scale is done on very small scale within the small size of land, and smaller machines most of which are manually operated, are used.

The small-size farm called Songhai Village is to demonstrate that even with a small amount of money, a sustainable farm can be started and operated profitably. Olufunke Taiwo, chief executive, Hadur Travel and Tours, that also takes agro tourists on a tour of Israel to assess the country’s agricultural expertise, says, “I realised that many people with interest in agriculture would have wanted to visit Israel to hone their skills or agricultural expertise to produce more and earn more from agribusinesses, but some may not yet have the funds to undertake such a tour.

“So, we searched and discovered another good place where our people can learn farming techniques and how to run agribusiness ventures profitably. Every time we take tourists on agro tours, they come back loaded with ideas and these have produced results for many and we shall continue taking people to anywhere in the world they can acquire knowledge on running their businesses profitably, and this includes exhibitions.”

Some of the agro tourists on this month’s tour speak on what they have learnt and how they intend to use it. Ojo Adewale Elisha, a fresh graduate of economics, from the Obafemi Awolowo University, says – “Food is consumed daily by people, so a venture in agriculture if done the right way would always yield profit, even if it is not a mega profit to start with. I plan to go into agriculture on a very large scale. I am impressed by how crops such as vegetables that are grown organically with livestock wastes without any fertiliser still grow big and luscious. Before now, I thought only crops grown with fertilisers could produce such results, but now I have learnt how to do this organically. I am also impressed by how nothing is wasted on the farm, waste materials in some aspects of the farm are used as raw materials in another aspect of the farm.”

Osajeyfo Aigbomian, an IT graduate, says “I have learnt how to get massive results from crop production by using techniques utilised on Songhai Farm, which can be practised anywhere,” citing the example of mulch which is got from waste plants and used in fertilising the soil.

Kolawole Oyedeji, a poultry farmer and agric consultant, plans to utilise the knowledge he gained from conversion of livestock wastes to biogas and compost, saying “disposal of poultry wastes has been a major problem to farmers, but I have seen how it can be converted to biogas and compost. So, I shall partner with others to invest in it.”

Chidinma and Olumide Akinola want to expand their farming operations. Chidinma, a medical doctor, is particularly impressed with the knowledge she acquired in production of small size livestock. She says, “My husband is already a farmer and we have a cocoa and banana plantations and we want to expand our production through what we learnt. I am personally interested in snail and poultry production. I am also interested in mushroom farming, it is very easy to start, with low capital and it is very profitable and I have learnt the techniques I would need.”

Mbaegu Chuks is a graduate of agriculture from Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Abia State. He says, “I run Sun City Farm, owned by Olumide Akinola. We have plans of expanding it. It is currently in Edo State, we want to set up more farms in Enugu and Ibadan. Songhai Farm is indeed a place many Nigerians should come to change their orientation about farming, from consumption to production. I learnt that whether small or big, a farm can be sustainable and the same techniques can be applied.”

Also at the tour were Esther Jury and Tabat Yusuf, lecturers at the Kaduna State College of Education, who came on the tour to deepen their knowledge of agriculture so as to pass it over to their students and fire up their desire for agricultural entrepreneurship.

There was also Okoye Azubuike, a manufacturer and oil and gas businessman, who came to gather knowledge so as to venture into agribusiness.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 00:00  OLUYINKA ALAWODE

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