RE­FLEC­TIONS Agro-ty­coon: IT grad­u­ate turns poul­try farmer, sells eggs

Daily Trust - - YOUTH VILLE -

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.

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