Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, alerted the nation in a Pyramid Radio programme in Kano that there had been aggressive exportation of grains that might lead to famine in the country starting from January 2017. He reported that no fewer than 500 trucks of grains depart the country every week, following a huge demand in the global market that is targeting the country’s surplus production and unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of food by January next year. He said that there is a high demand for grains from Nigeria from African countries such as Libya and Algeria and from places as far away as Brazil.
But rather than see the development as “creating an excellent environment for mindless export of Nigerian grains across our borders” that should be curtailed, as Shehu would want us to believe, it is a cheering news for farmers. One, it means that there is now a wider market for their produce. Two, we are graduating from food import dependent nation to a net exporter of food items. Three, farmers are now making money not only from the local market but also earn scarce foreign exchange as well. The implication of all these is that it now pays to farm, that farming in the country is becoming a highly lucrative business. However, to address the concerns and prediction of Garba Shehu that there might be food shortage from next year, everybody should engage in one form of farming or the other.
The soaring food prices is stimulated by the current economic recession and increased worldwide population. Since Nigeria’s population could double in the next 10 years, there would be more demand pressure on food supply. In addition, there is a growing demand for bio-fuels which will certainly lead to higher agricultural commodities prices and larger returns.
Basically, many work in civil service, industries and engage in businesses of all sorts to feed their families. As a result, greater part of their earnings is spent buying food items. To ensure food security and healthy living, it pays to engage in one form of agriculture or the other especially in food production.
Start Up Capital
Farming provides ample opportunity to start with little or no capital and has the potential to grow into a large concern.
Land used to be a limiting factor in agriculture but with the development of agricultural value chain being promoted agribusiness can be done anywhere. For instance, one can start snail rearing, grass cutter rearing, poultry, processing and packaging business from his or her backyard.
Since the economy has changed white collar jobs are no longer fashionable, agribusiness holds the potential for employment and job creation. One can engage in any aspect of agriculture from food production, processing to marketing and distribution.
Farming or any agribusiness is lucrative. The return on investment is high. When one is engaged in agribusiness one gets the opportunity of earning more money from his efforts and become self-confident, has high self-esteem of oneself and becomes a better person.
Many of the richest people in America are farmers – the likes of former United States Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and a host others. Even in Nigeria, the likes of Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa; former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar; former President Olusegun Obasanjo; Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere and a host of others are farmers.
Farming is a highly rewarding business that guarantees not only food security but also financial freedom. One can invest in crop production, animal husbandry, trading in agro-input supplies or equipment or green grocery.
Mechanised crop production is money spinning, brain tasking and offers opportunity for exercise, all one needs to live a healthy and happy life. For those who have reasonable capital and large piece of land, they can embark on production of cash crops such as cocoa, oil palm and cotton. These would require a large expanse of land and have long gestation period in terms of return on investment. Alternatively, they can engage in food crop production which requires small capital outlay, less space and shorter gestation period. Such food crops are yam, rice, maize, beans, cassava, and sweet potato.
However, those with low capital outlay can embark on improved rice varieties production, hybrid cassava, hybrid maize, cucumber, tomato, watermelon.
Every household consumes rice in Nigeria, maize is a staple food for humans and also used for animal feeds. There is a huge market for them. Cassava is used for food in various forms and for baking bread and other confectioneries while fruits such as water melon and cucumber are in high demand.
A greengrocery is a good business that can thrive in cities and unemployed youths can tap into the goldmine to create his own wealth. Working class and upper class people in the cities would patronise anyone who sells fresh food at a decent places. Food items that can be sold at a greengrocery are fresh fruits, vegetables, packaged palm oil, vegetable oil, groundnut oil and packaged pepper, dried fish, garri, honey. Processed natural foods such as coffee, cocoa etc. can also be packaged for sale.
All that are required to make the business a success are a strategic and decent location, a generating set, some deep freezers and a registered business name. Some forms of advertisement are needed to create awareness about the business.
This is growing of flowers and other ornamental plants for beautifying of the environment. One can specialise in growing roses, hibiscus, sun flower, moon flower.
This though requires special skills, it is very lucrative. Animal husbandry includes poultry, grass cutters rearing, rabbit rearing, goat rearing, snail rearing and bee-keeping. Poultry includes chicken, guinea fowl, turkey, and duck rearing. Poultry products such as eggs, chickens, and catfish are delicacies that are consumed by many and so yields high returns. A woman started with 100 pullets and developed the business to over 80,000 birds plus incubators that produce day-old chicks.
This is keeping of fish and other aquatic animals such as prawns. It involves use of artificial ponds or tanks and others that can contain large volume of water to keep them.
This is the production of honey from bee-keeping.
Sale Of Agro-Inputs/Equipment
One can play in the area of sale of agro-input such as chemicals, seeds, seedlings, fish and poultry feeds, fertilisers etc. One can also deal in agric equipment such as shelling machine, pelletisers, hammer mill, mixer as well as sprayers.
Agricultural value chain is the secondary stage of processing of and adding value to raw materials either for industrial purposes or consumption. This is where the money is. The Agricultural Transformation Agenda of government encourages farmers to move from primary production of agricultural products to processing and marketing. An agro-processor would take advantage of the cheap and often wasted agro-products due to spoilages in the farms. The processor will earn a lot of money by adding value to the raw materials and also encourage the farmers to produce more since they are assured that their products would be purchased by the agro- processors.
Thus one can go into cassava flour production, fish and poultry processing and packaging, tomato paste production, packaging and production of fish and poultry feeds. You can process cassava into garri, flour, glucose, maize into pap, animal feeds and so on.
These are industries that use produce from agriculture in their production or manufacture of inputs and other equipment used on the farm such as fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, anti-biotic, oil, veterinary drugs etc.
Marketing Of Agric Produce
Marketing and distribution is the last stage of the value chain. After the agricultural products are processed, there is value addition. The value-added products create markets for local consumption as raw materials for other industries and for export.
Agricultural marketing involves exchange of produce between two persons. It may be farmers selling to consumers or to middlemen who in turn sell to consumers. Some middlemen or wholesalers collect farm produce from various locations and make them available in large quantities for sale. They visit farmers in the farms. They are called gate buyers or farm buyers.
So if you don’t want to be involved in growing crops or rearing animals, you can sell agricultural products – selling of primary and processed products such as cassava, yam, garri, maize
To make storage, transportation and distribution packaging, that is, putting farm products into containers such as tins, cans, beans, boxes, cases, crates, and wrappers, is necessary.
Some mop up excess produce during peak season and store them and make them available for consumption later at higher prices. On can therefore invest in storage of beans, rice, yam tubers, grains in silos to mention but a few.
This is movement of farm produce from the farms or stores to the market. These are usually done by farmers or middlemen who buy from farmers and sell to wholesalers who in turn sell to retailers.
This is a great money spinner and those engaged in it talk in terms of foreign exchange.