Audu Ogbeh has many accolades attached to his name but i respect him most for the passion he has for agriculture. As CEO of Efugo Farms, he has amassed a tremendous amount of agricultural knowledge. Not only he is knowledgeable, but he is always ready to share his knowledge to the younger generation at a moment’s notice. I sat down with him to get a few tips for young people on a budget who are considering starting small farms of their own.
The rising food prices present an ideal opportunity for people to go into farming-What crops would you recommend specifically for young people on a budget?
The safest option is to start out with crops such as plantain, mangoes, bananas or oranges. In the case of plantains, you can cut cost by buying suckers from an established farm owner who may demand a lower price than the market. Plantains are ideal for young people because you will not be required to spend a lot of time on the farm; you harvest 9 months after planting and provided you keep your farm clean, you can gradually build your business. Other crops such as rice, beans and cassava require too much capital for beginners.
What are some other opportunities that young people can take advantage of?
You can make a significant profit if you rear livestock during festive periods as the market price is always higher during these times. For instance, if you have 20000 naira, you can buy day old broilers for roughly 150 naira each, feed them for two months at a cost of 100 each, and during the festive season they can sell for roughly 1000-15000 naira. Rabbits are also a good opportunity because they multiply fast and you can grow them in your garden. You can start off with small capital of 10-20000 naira. For those with a little more capital, you can buy one or two cows from Maiduguri for roughly 40k, transport them to your location for about 6-7k, feed them for 90 days and sell them for double the buying price. The risk is that you are not assured of which cows will survive that period.
What about Fish? There are a lot of young people interested in fish farming these days.
Fish farming can be profitable but beginners must be careful to not buy fingerlings from the wrong source. These days, hatcheries give tadpoles of all sorts and if there has been inbreeding your fish will not grow. You will need initial start up capital of 15-20k. You can buy each tadpole for about 30 naira, you will spend about 200-300 naira feeding to maturity and you can sell for a price of 500 naira each. To cut costs, you can make the hatcheries yourself.
They say that you can grow anything in Nigeria, what states are most conducive for some of our key crops?
I would recommend growing plantains in the southwest, especially coastal areas.
Benue state is very suitable for oranges and mangoes. With 5000 naira and some land you can plant oranges for an initial planting cost of 120 naira per seed.
Mangoes and oranges will also grow well in Northern Oyo and Ondo state because these states typically do not exhibit too much rainfall and the soil is well drained. The disadvantage of these crops is that it takes 4 years for you to realize any returns so is most suitable for those who are willing to make a long term investment. So if you have a bit of money to put aside, instead of putting it in the bank, it is best to invest it in orange, mango or guava farming.
Rice grows best in Southwest areas such as Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun and Oyo while Yam can flourish in parts of ondo, ekiti and northern oyo and Osun but not Ogun because the rainfall is too heavy. Osun is also conducive to cassava farming.
I think the beauty of farming is that you can add value to a crop and increase your profit margins substantially. Where do you see opportunities for value addition?
Yes that’s true. Well, a plantain farm is a great place to grow snails, so that is one way to add value. If your land is not too wet, you can breed goats in conjunction with plantains and yams because goat manure is good fertilizer for these crops. If you own a fishery, you can breed chickens close by because their droppings produce algae in fishponds, which the fish are fond of.
(Excerpt from Harambefarmlad)