Ayo Alonge, [email protected]
Paschal Adikaibe is the farm administrator of Farm Park, a firm which focuses on investments in agribusiness, including setting up farms for willing investors and managing same. Adikaibe, in this interview, spoke on the essentials of poultry farming and more.
We are an agricultural investment company with the goal of being part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN. We start up farms for people, bearing in mind that the major issue affecting people in agriculture is funding. We have a crowd-funding processing here. We have three arms of the business all in a view to promote agriculture. We do that through our farm estate. You own a farm in our farm estate which has security and other basic amenities provided in it. The other is for you to either own a land, lease or call us to manage it for you. In the e-farming, we provide funds they need to manage productivity. We work with rice farmers, maize farmers, and the rest.
Stages of growth
The major reason we chose Lagos is that we saw Lagos as a different country of its own. This is where we can attract more investors. We have farms elsewhere. Like our cashew plantation in Ilorin which is about 15,000 hectares. We have in Oyo too.
The one we have in Lagos, we test things that we are meant to give to farmers, to be sure that investors funds are properly managed. The company was established 2016. Farm Park is a trademark. We also have companies that deal in poultry farming.
The borders have been closed and the business of poultry farming has expanded. As a matter of fact, we are not even producing enough for the growing population of the country. Since inception, we have worked with about 250 poultry farmers. In 2018, we moved to vegetable production. In same year, we had to move to management of tasks for people in agriculture. In all, I can estimate that we have worked with over 750 farmers.
Technology in farming
Technology is different in farming. We have an app with which you monitor your farm. For the farmers, we formulate our processes just to cut down cost of production. We have our pilot farm located in Epe. Before we give out anything to our farmers, we get it working first on the pilot farm to be sure it works so they can maximise profit and ensure the produce is good for consumption. In our farms, we don’t use inorganic preservatives. I can’t just leak out the full secret but whatever we use, we do to ensure that it does not breach on the health of people, after consumption.
One thing is that we are a team of professionals in the field of agriculture. For everything we do, we have subject matter specialists that handle them. Secondly, you can’t give what you don’t have. We test-run things before we give to you. From the testimony of people who have invested in Farm Park, some companies are now involved in agritech. But for us, we are into agriculture investments and it cuts across all aspects of agriculture. The major thing we produce is poultry foods. We produce broilers and also process to sell to people. Say we produce for meat. Maybe with time, we can expand to egg production and maybe to turkeys and ostriches. We package in the most hygienic manner you can think of. We have a training session under our extension services and under our CSR programmes. We still have a programme we call ‘Agripeneurs’ where people who are interested in agriculture can come in for training.
Stages of production
After bringing the birds from the hashing farm, you now brood them for like 21 days. While brooding, you must have a specially prepared feed for them which must be rich in protein. The reason for protein is because it helps to build the body.
Then we can be talking about building the muscles after that. After feeding them with the grower, that is when the finishing comes which is rich in carbohydrates. When the birds mature, we take them for slaughter and then we preserve them with our organic supplements before taking them to the customers. That is the production circle up to the table of the consumers.
Risks and challenges
Agriculture itself is highly risky. Weather is another factor that affects birds. Another is government policies. These are the issues with agriculture in Africa, with Nigeria as a case study. The new policy regarding the closure of the border has really favoured us in Nigeria because people are now patronising indigenous poultry products but what happens when the border opens? This is a factor that will limit production and our selling capacity.
We can also talk about climate change. As human beings complain, that’s the same way animals complain when the pen is not conducive to them. We tend to have a high rate of mortality. In all, we have our own way of managing the risks and challenges by having an insurance policy. We insure all the capital so that in the case of an uncertainty, the losses are well covered and provided for. Also, we have a policy with the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC). We want to expand to others in the private sector too.
The Anchor Borrowers scheme is what is good for the agricultural sector too. We haven’t tried it because we understand that there is a form of bureaucratic process as is common to the systems in this country. By the time you want to borrow, you must have passed the production circle and whatever you don’t achieve at a given time in agriculture, you have lost out. The major challenge now is not about finance. We are expanding to other products and that’s when we can seek for finance from other investors. I am just talking about the peculiar challenges that need government intervention in the sector. The high interest rate makes it very difficult for farmers in Nigeria to access loans. We haven’t ever sought for loans. We have projects that we will need to partner with the government over and by the time we release the framework, we can now begin to seek loans for the project. One of the policies good for us is the ban on importation. All smugglers have to be penalised. I have someone that still smuggles imported chickens where I live. I feel so bad about it because this is a business I do and yet they use chemicals to preserve it. If you taste the local chicken and the foreign ones, you will see that the difference is very clear. I would like the government to come in. Let’s focus on both the poultry foods and rice. Nigeria has exceeded Egypt and we are now the largest producers of rice. But, for how long will that be? You still see organisations giving their staff foreign rice for Christmas and that is not right at all. We have to promote the indigenous products. That is the only way to grow the economy.
Advice for investors
One major lesson is motivation and passion. If you are interested in the money alone and it is not forthcoming, it kills your motivation and passion. If you have interest in it, you are motivated. Your interest in it will be your motivation. You must know that it is a risky venture but the riskier it is, the better it pays. Before you start, do your feasibility studies very well. Even when you have the money to start with even 50,000 birds, due to low knowledge of the business, they might record about 50 per cent of mortality.
You now hear people say that I have tried it but it didn’t work for me. You can start small and that way, you start to maximise your profits and losses on the long run. If you are not motivated, the money you make may not even motivate you. You also have to be patient. For instance, in snail farming, you can even get up to 250 per cent return on your investment but it takes time. The same applies to piggery. For broiler production, you might get up to 30 per cent return on investment but it comes fast. When an investor is interested in any, we send the cost to you for evaluation.