Agribusiness in Nigeria is the current upward trend in the economy of our great country. The positive movement of this sector has cemented the importance of agribusiness in Nigeria.
The whole country from the President to the man in the street is talking about diversifying the economy from oil dominated mono economy to agric/food production focused economy. From this you can see the Importance of agribusiness for the future of the Nigerian economy, and anticipate that there will be plenty of agribusiness opportunities in Nigeria.
There is no doubt that agriculture is vital for the sustainability of most countries as it supports the basic need to get back to the farm and feed ourselves, communities and even the world. Despite that, I cant help but feel that we are making some fundamental mistakes when going in to agribusiness in Nigeria.
Are you keen to avoid making these mistakes? If you are youve come to the right place!
In this post I will be discussing with you 5 mistakes to avoid when going in to agribusiness in Nigeria, either crop farming or animal husbandry.
Lets get started and discuss some of the problems of agribusiness in Nigeria
Mistake #1 Seeing farming as our forefathers saw it
Yes, farming is the profession of our forefathers. In fact, it is the most popular profession in Africa because (according to statistical data) nearly half of Africas employed population is farmers. But you see, our farming techniques have been passed on from forefathers, but they have not progressed greatly and caught up with modern times.
Our forefathers practiced farming as a means of feeding themselves, family and the immediate community, which is why, although millions of them were farmers, we still could not feed ourselves as a nation.
Africa has more farmers than any other continent of the world, yet we still import most of our food.
In 2015 alone, Africa imported food worth about $40 billion. Thats shameful, what do you think?
The reason for this is that we are still practicing farming just like our forefathers.
Till this very day, when you look around in Nigeria, youll observe that 90% of farming is still small scale farming.
For us to move forward from here to where we dream of, we must make agribusiness work for Nigerian farmers. We must adopt mechanized and progressive farming techniques. We must start viewing farming as a lucrative business.
Without this change, the popular noise about our intending economy diversification will end up being just noise with no action, because currently, Nigeria has 5 million farmers but cannot feed a nation of 180 million, not to talk about exporting our agric product?
We have to adopt massive mechanized and commercialised farming in Nigeria.
Mistakes #2 Most people entering agribusiness in Nigeria see themselves as mere farmers
This mentality is dangerous because the world has moved away from this mentality.
Modern farmers no longer see themselves as just farmers. 21st century farmers are businessmen who deal in farm produce.
Take for instance if you think youre just a farmer, you wont see your agricultural produce as something that you have to brand, package or vigorously market with a clearly defined marketing strategies.
Some time ago I was talking with a man who was planning to go into poultry farming business. I told him to treat poultry farming as a business. Read business books and equip yourself with proven business knowledge and tactics.
We cant just encourage people to go into farming. We cant just think this economic diversification is as simple as encouraging people to go into fish farming, poultry farming, pig farming or other crop farming, without equipping them with basic business skills, knowledge, tactics and strategies that will help them to compete favourably in the market.
You as an individual potential farmer or practicing farmer have to understand this.
In any business, any Joe can produce anything, but it takes a smart man to sell, I mean to sell at a good price and make a profit. Without profit there is no business.
Knowing how to grow certain crops or how to raise certain animals is just a chapter; selling those products at a good profit is where the real work is.
Mistake #3 Most Nigerians going into farming do not invest enough time in market research
A few minutes ago I just finished speaking with an Indian client of mine. He is a businessman who (together with other foreigners) owns businesses in Nigeria.
Recently they decided to venture into fish farming. In preparation of this venture they have been busy for the past month, researching and learning as much as possible about their potential agricultural business venture.
From personal experience, the average Nigerian does not do that.
To most people, starting an agric business is as simple as deciding a crop to grow or a sector of the animal husbandry to venture into.
As I said earlier, farming is a business and has to be taken very seriously.
If youre going into agribusiness, the very first thing to do is to take time to conduct market research so that you can determine the internal and external factors both negative and positive that can potentially impact your business.
Only then will you know the best strategies to adopt in selling your farm produce.
Mistake #4 Nigerian agribusiness farmers produce without having buyers
A few months ago a man from Imo Sate called me. He needed me to help him, but unfortunately I could not.
What happened was that this man went ahead and started a fish farm, stocked fishes and spent money to grow them.
As these fishes grew and became ready for market, the man remembered that he has no idea who he will sell his fishes to.
He tried all he could but he couldnt find profitable buyers.
Trust me, this story is not a one off. There are so many farmers like this in Nigeria.
They read online or are told that rice farming, poultry farming, pig farming or cucumber farming is profitable, and then they get started, without knowing who to sell to.
As a business person (not a mere farmer), you have to know who and where your farm produce will be sold, even before you get started in whatever agricultural venture you choose.
I am not saying that you should just have the idea of where to sell your farm produce. I mean, reach out to your target market, speak with potential customers, discuss with them and make sure there are people (buyers) who will be wiling to buy your farm produce, even before you get started.
Mistake #5 Nigerian farmers enter agribusiness expecting a get rich quick business
A get rich quick mentality is not new; its only a surprise that no matter what most people try to lay their hands on, they want success, immediately!
None many things in life work that way, unless you win the lottery. Agribusiness in Nigeria is not like a lottery because its success is not down to luck, but hard work and planning.
Your agricultural business venture could be successful, you could make millions through it, but it wont happen overnight, it might not even happen next month or next year.
Be patient, persistent and pursue your goal until you achieve it. Dont be deceived by whatever you might have heard or read because you wont become rich overnight.
Diligently do all that you can and then the reward shall come.
When it comes, dont forget to send my contribution!
by Stephen Afolabi.
Drop your comments below.