Stories by Steve Agbota [email protected] 08033302331
For thousands of Nigerians and people who have decided to look into that direction are smiling to the bank frequently with wholesome profits from their various farming businesses, of which bell apple farming happens to be one.
Though bell apple farming is one of the newest farming business opportunities in the country, few people who ventured into it few years ago are now making millions due to the high demand for the fruit. Experts have argued that Bell apple can also save Nigeria 60 per cent forex spending on apples imported from South Africa, Europe, North America and Asia into the country.
It is a tropical apple, which grows quite well in the humid tropical climate as it is in parts of Nigeria. Basically, bell apple is bigger in size, much more attractive, with a higher juice content, a unique aroma, sweet and sour in taste. The bell shaped fruit, has a big and brown seed in each apple compared to the imported apples.
It is unfortunate that many Nigerians fail to tap into benefits abounding in agriculture despite being blessed with so many opportunities that are open for its citizens. Nigeria, a crude oil producing nation, has led its citizens away from farming and concentrating all their energies in competing for oil products as if it is the only natural resource in the country that generate foreign exchange.
Daily Sun investigation revealed that bell apple farming is a money-spinner that a farmer can make over N10 million per annum and above from farming bell apple on a hectare of land if it is well managed, as the fruit is becoming as expensive as the other foreign apples with demand steadily increasing in the market.
However, there are many business opportunities in the bell apple business aside from farming. One can make a fortune raising bell apple seedlings within three months with a start-up capital of N20,000 to N50,000 and increase investments in short period.
According to industry watchers, there is no other time to invest in bell apple farming than now because the need for this local apple is fast growing among the fruit juice producing companies as well as the business dimensions it generates.
To start bell apples seedling farming requires as little as N20,000, of which N10,000 will go into seeds purchase while the remaining N10,000 goes for construction of containers and other miscellaneous expenses. At N100 per seed, one can plant 100 seeds.
Presently, it is produced and sold locally in states like Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Edo, among others. Some bell apple trees are also available in Kaduna, Plateau and Nassarawa states and some other northern states except core northern states like Borno and Sokoto.
Bell apple is highly nutritious and medicinal. This is established in the annals of scientific researches as contained in the Scientific World Journal, Health Sciences Journal and Food Chemistry.
It makes good business sense to go into bell apple business for either seedlings or full farming because many people are not really into it and the opportunities are still under-exploited.
Speaking with Daily Sun, a researcher and founder, Bell Apple Wealth Ventures, Mr. Akinyemi Oluwagbenga, said a tree could yield as much as 1,000 apples per harvest and there is a possibility of four harvests times in a year, adding that bell apple tree starts fruiting three years after planting and can produce twice in one year, while the temperate apple trees take about seven years to start bearing apples.
He revealed that starting from the nursery, the seed could be obtained at N100 each and the nurtured seedlings attract about N650 to N750 per stand. He said if a farmer should be able to have the plantation of bell apple on a hectare, which is 15 plots, the profit would run to about N10 million and above per annum, saying the produce is export viable but the issue in Nigeria is that farmers have not been able to produce enough quantity for export.
Speaking on the uses, he explained: “Malayans apply a powder of the dried leaves on a cracked tongue. A preparation of the root is a remedy for itching. The root bark is useful against dysentery. Cambodians take a decoction of the fruit, leaves or seeds as a febrifuge. The juice of crushed leaves is applied as a skin lotion and is added to baths. In Brazil, various parts of the plants are used as remedies for constipation, diabetes, coughs, headache and other ailments.
“Seeded fruits, seeds, bark and leaves have shown antibiotic activity and have some effect on blood pressure and respiration. The bell apple tree grows vigorously on a range of soil type from sand to heavy clay. It tolerates moderately acid soil,” he explained.
According to him, the money making opportunities in bell apple farming include sale of bell apples, sale of bell apple seeds, sale of germinated seeds and seedlings, among others, and it can be processed into valuable products such as juice, jelly, jam, marmalade, apple cider and red and white wines concentrate.
On the health benefits, he said bell apples have compounds with anti-diabetic potential and it has a strong anti-hyperglycaemic properties. He hinted that it also has high antioxidants and polyphenols known to combat inflammation and has xanthine oxidase inhibitors, which may assist in the prevention of cataract formation.
He added: “The ripe bell apples are eaten raw, that is, it is edible. The slightly unripe ones are used for making jelly and pickles. You can create sweet jams and preserves from it. Preserves take hours to make based on the apples’ high water content, but it can be done with ample patience. You can chop raw bell apples for use in salads. Red and white wines are made from it and other valuable products such as juice, cider, dried apple snack, concentrate, among other uses.”
As a tropical tree, he said it requires ample humidity, high rainfall, and no frost, saying once these basic conditions are met, the trees need little else to thrive.
Some of the consumers of bell apple who spoke with Daily Sun, said they prefer the bell apple to foreign ones because it is fresh and one knows the source and where it is being produced.
They said government needs to encourage local farmers to grow more local foods because some of the imported ones are not so healthy. They said there are a lot of things government at various levels must get right in agriculture if they want food security in the country.
Mrs. Gladys Nwabueze, one of the consumers, said: “Sometimes, when you buy the foreign apples, you cut it and you see something blackish and yellowish in between due to the thing they used to preserve it and some of them have been harvested for like eight months before being imported into Nigeria. Before arriving here, it must have lost nutritive value. That is why the locally made food is better than the one imported.”
600,000 farmers included in 2016 dry season farming –Cellulant
Cellulant has launched a report highlighting the impact of technology in transforming agriculture across Africa particularly with the “Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) Dry Season, 2016.”
The report highlights key progress on food security and financial inclusion for farmers across 30 states in Nigeria where 600,000 were engaged financially in 2016 dry season farming.
The programme, which sets out to service 500,000 farmer-households in four value chains, accomplished 92 per cent of the targeted subsidised services, but as a result on-boarded an additional 200,000 farmers into a financial support platform. 400 agribusinesses and more than 1,000 jobs were created as a result of the programme. The report highlighted the effects of technology on agriculture as well as projections for the industry.
Since 2011, by the use of technology, governments have been able to eliminate corruption, promote transparency and transform the agricultural sector. In Nigeria where there is a clear disconnect between Broad Street (financial sector) and Main Street (our inner cities and rural areas), interventions like GES become very important when it comes to the creation of real growth in the economy.
With the dry season programme impacting more than 350,000 farmers, enough food will be produced to feed roughly 120 million Nigerians for two months. In 2017, Nigeria’s private sector and financial partners will begin to test pilot the injection of loans into the system.
Cellulant has arranged the consortium of financial sector actors to deploy a loan portfolio of $100 million into smallholder farmers’ micro loans. The goal is to achieve 1,736,445 farmers borrowing between June 2017 and July 2018.
This transformation was made possible by the Agrikore platform also known as the “e-wallet” platform. Agrikore, which was developed by Cellulant for Nigeria in 2012, at its core provides the tools for the creation of a structured agribusiness economy (agriconomy). The platform provides value for users, which includes ensuring a start to end management of interventions (schemes), providing visibility of the cash-flow movements within the schemes, enabling the management of accounts, executing payment and reconciliation processes, as well as enabling start and end to end management of services, products catalogue and inventories.
Liberia is the first country outside of Nigeria to have adopted and implemented the Agrikore platform and all its elements fully. Other countries such as Togo and Malawi are in advanced stages of replicating the system. Governments from the Middle East have also indicated interest in the implementation of the platform.
Olam launches annual financial, sustainability reports on global agribusiness
Olam International Limited (Olam) has merged its Annual Report with its Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report for the first time, reflecting the interdependence of economic, social and environmental performance for the global agribusiness and the importance of creating value across all three fronts.
The FY2016 report’s theme, “Maximising Value and Purpose”, reflects the building blocks of an enduring business, according to Co-Founder and Group CEO, Sunny Verghese:
“The macro changes the world is experiencing have long-term implications for how businesses are led, organised, managed and financed. At Olam, we must continue to maximise shareholder value while pursuing a purpose-driven model, providing consistent transparency, advancing sustainability and engaging with an ever-broadening community of stakeholders.
“We remain focused on executing our differentiated strategy, aligned with our core purpose of growing responsibly. To seize the opportunities from the rise of digital disruption, we are also creating a ‘digital first’ culture at Olam by evaluating various initiatives.”
Commenting on the strong year-on-year net profit growth for 2016, A. Shekhar, Executive Director and Group COO, highlighted the significant uplift in volumes and sales revenues for Africa.
“Given our depth and breadth of experience across the continent, Africa is a strategic vertical for the business. We are confident that our investments in Africa and across our prioritised platforms will contribute further to our success moving forward,” he said.
Commenting on Olam’s social and environmental performance, Jean-Paul Pinard, Chair of Olam’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Board Committee, said: “For anyone investing in the agricultural sector, understanding the external aspects of the business is fundamental.”