REFLECTIONS Agro-tycoon: IT graduate turns poultry farmer, sells eggs
is a young graduate Longpiat Dongban, State.
from Plateau in his early thirties Media
a degree in Digital Armed with in Computer
and a Masters Technology one
Security in 2014, Forensics and have sunk in
Dongban to would expect YOUTHVILLE
job. He isn’t! the blue chip tycoon
thriving Agro- spoke with the
Bits owner recently. and D Poultry Text by Ben Atonco & Simon E. Sunday @SimonEchewofun hy didn’t you go for a blue chip job after graduation?
It is partly because of the job situation in Nigeria. I also believe farming is a vocation that suits the lifestyle I want to live. Even with my degrees, I still want to work under myself and this farming vocation gives me the opportunity for that. I make the calls and take the decision - I am my boss!
Before going to the university, did you think of becoming a farmer?
I did not. I went to school to study media technology such as video games. I wanted to know how they create these things. After graduation, I did a few things but I did not stay too long before I started my masters. For that, I wanted to know more about programming. There was no serious prospect for jobs after that and even when I needed to make some money. So I thought of what I can do for myself before the job comes and that was how farming started for me.
Now as a farmer which aspect do specialise in?
I am into poultry farming. I get birds from when they are hatchlings, I feed and nurture them till they become of age to start laying eggs. I take the eggs to the market for sale, I also sell the birds when they are spent, that is up to a year.
Does it require special skills to nurture the birds?
It does not really require you being an
Wexpert; it is just that you should not take anything for granted. When it comes to my birds, I don’t compromise. I ensure I give them vaccines when they are due and my workers do keep a close eye on them to detect when they are abnormal. The veterinary doctor checks them regularly and if any dies, we do not just throw it away but do an autopsy to detect the cause. It is quite expensive to do all these but that is the best way because if you delay the birds care, it can be really catastrophic for the business.
You seem to know much about birds’ medication, did you do a course in poultry?
I did a business course as an elective during my university days that actually gave me the courage to write a business plan. I did not do anything about poultry but I watched online videos of how people take care of birds to get the knowledge.
Does this mean you transferred your digital skill into poultry farming?
Yes. I still use my digital skills very well in my poultry business. I raised my capital and raise awareness the digital way as I do graphics, newsletters and much of that to get peoples’ attention for my business.
How much does it take to start a poultry farm?
I have the land for that, so I did not need that in my capital. My budget was N1.7million in my business plan but I did not get up to that. I got some savings and borrowings to raise about N1.4million; I then situated the business in Jos, Plateau state where I have land. How many do you have in your farm? I have three workers for a start. I am definitely going to expand as I get more capital. I should expand even beyond having a branch in Abuja which I have started the plan but it requires much capital to develop the land. I am also planning to expand from poultry business to more agribusiness opportunities.
How many eggs do you produce monthly?
I started with a thousand birds which is not much for bigger farms. One should expect some five percent casualty when it comes to growing birds. With that estimate, the birds would be around 900 and I expect 800 eggs being laid a day as some could lay more than an egg. This can rise to 900 at peak production periods.
In a week, that should be up to 200 crates weekly for peak period but we haven’t reached a peak now but we still get 20 crates daily which translates to about 140 crates a week.
How much do you make roughly in a month on sales?
The minimum price of selling a crate is what I use because at Shop Rite and other big marts, you could get an egg crate for a thousand naira, but in the market, it goes for N850. Farmers don’t sell at that price, we sell in wholesale price for N650 to N700 and at that, I could get N25,000 to N30,000 in a week. If one expands, more can come from that. How do you connect to your buyers? There is quite a lot of market for eggs; it is not a problem selling them off. The only issue is when you are trying to maximise your sale price. If you stay with the minimum of N650, it won’t be a great deal. One could be lucky to get a contract with top resorts and hotels and earn quite a fortune.
Do you have any challenges in operating your business?
I do have a water challenge in Jos. There is also power issue as the birds would need heat emitting bulbs to keep warm. The water board stopped supplying water, so I have to buy water while we get fuel to run our generator. That adds to our expenses.
Would you advise young people to start an agribusiness?
Yes. They don’t have to start so big. They could start with a few birds like 50 to 100. You can start by providing for your family and friends and then to neighbours. You could expand in no time when you study the market and the process; you can even get people who would want to invest in your venture.