2019: A Year To Prosper In Agribusiness

“It is time for Africa to move to the top of global food value chains through agro-industrialisation and adding value to all it produces. The secret of the wealth of nations is clear: rich nations process what they produce, whether in agriculture, minerals, oil and gas, or services.

“Poor nations export their produce as raw materials. While demand for raw commodities is elastic, demand for processed and value-added commodities is relatively inelastic.”

The above quotation was part of the submissions of Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Nigeria’s former Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, at the FAO’s head office in Rome, Italy, at a recent public lecture of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Processing, the secondary stage of agricultural value chain, is where the money is. This means adding value to raw materials either for industrial purposes or consumption. Farmers should no longer be content with producing and selling primary products but should move a step further to processing and marketing their products. This is to take advantage of the cheap and often wasted agro-produce due to spoilage in the farms. The seller of primary produce will sell at give-way prices while the agro-processor will earn a lot more money by adding value to the raw materials. When processor earns more money he encourages the farmers to produce more since they are assured that their products would be purchased by the processors.

Thus one should not just go into cassava farming with the sole aim of selling the tubers but should also make provisions for processing them into garri, flour, pellets or glucose. If you are into maize farming, you make provisions for processing the produce into milk powder, pap and animal feeds. And if you are into tomato farming, you can think of tomato paste production.

The agribusiness that is trending now is a paradigm shift from subsistence to commercial agriculture which is characterised by efficient use of production technologies and inputs to engender higher productivity, profitability and improved well-being of farmers. It implies adoption of best practices in production, value addition and marketing of the farmers’ produce.

It covers a whole lot of activities covering animal breeding, crop production, distribution, farm machinery, processing, seed supply, marketing and retail sales. This means that everybody can find one interesting area or the other to play in.

It also entails capacity building by way of skills acquisition and enterprise management. The aim is to have a commercially viable and market-oriented sector with the potential to create the bulk of the needed jobs along the value chains.

Agribusiness involves all agents of the food and fibre value chain and institutions that influence it. The business consists of activities and disciplines involved in modern food production.

There are four stages in the agricultural value chains in which any serious minded individual can play and become rich. They are the input stage in which the farmer needs inputs such as agro-chemicals, fertilizers or seeds. And you will agree with me that many are making a living in the manufacture and sale of these materials.

The second is crop production or livestock production where the farmer plants his crops or rears his animals. The third, processing, which is where the farmer adds value to his primary products. This is where an investor reaps fabulous amount of profit.

Lastly, you have the marketing and distribution stages. At each stage, there are lots of opportunities in which anyone interested in agribusiness can play.

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.

For those with little or no money, they can engage in food crop production that requires small capital outlay, less space and shorter gestation period. Such food crops are yam, rice, maize, beans, cassava, and sweet potato.

Better still, they 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.

There are also opportunities in animal husbandry. 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.