Mkulima today we will be covering the future of agriculture in Africa and why the future of farming is not farming. let us do these guys. I’m interested in agriculture are you?
Fair enough, so for those of you who are not interested in agriculture but interested in food what do you think, like seriously now that’s the beginning of our problems.
So, today I’m going to be talking to you about why the future of farming is not farming.
Do you know that over 80 million people make a living through agriculture, staggering number right, about 50% of the country’s population.
But despite our huge involvement in agriculture. We spend about $6.8 billion annually importing food.
Compare these numbers for instance with the US. Depending on which statistics you take, between only 3 and 5% of the population are into agriculture, yet they make billions exporting agricultural produce.
Obviously there is no shortage of manpower, or even the willingness to earn a decent living amongst our rural farmers.
However, the agricultural system in the country is affected by several challenges.
Chief among them is agricultural financing. So it’s either the financial institutions do not understand agricultural financing, or they are risk-averse and will not invest because of the risk involved or they have better alternatives to make money from.
And because rural farmers cannot have access to financing, they remain rural farmers forever.
Secondly, because they can’t afford finance or they can’t find access to finance, they cannot afford machinery or improved seedlings to make farming better for them.
And that takes us to the next problem. The lack of farm extension services in the country.
There is actually one farm extension worker to 10,000 rural farmers in the country.
The ideal proportion is one extension worker to 100 farmers.
Tell me how do you manage that? Unfortunately, even the one to 10,000 that we have are people who are products of certificate rather than subificate.
You end up having an agriculture engineer, for instance, who spends five years in school.
By the end of his course, he goes to a roadside technician and asks him to fabricate his final year projects.
You have a farm extension worker or a cell scientist who actually has never been to the field, or doesn’t even know what a combine harvester means or looks like.
As result, you end up with rural farmers like this. Who have no access to quality actionable information to boost their productivity.
The fourth biggest problem for us in this country is that despite the number and the level of production, depending on what crop and what numbers you take, we lose between 40% to up to 70% of what is produced within our borders to post harvest losses.
The roads are bad, logistics is near zero and you can continue to name the problems.
We need a strong paradigm shift from business as usual. We might not realize this,
But there is a looming crisis that is about to hit the world and by extension the continent and everywhere else.
So the statistics are that by 2050, our numbers of the population will hit about 350 million if we continue to produce food.
At this rate that we’re producing food today, we are going to starve by the year 2050, because only those who can afford it will buy at very expensive rates.
Sometimes end up with rubber rice and rubber fish. The rest of us will probably have to rob them to take their food. There can never be national security without food security.
And this is the kind of thinking that made me leave the bank, left the oil sector and move into agriculture, somewhat of an outsider.
Zero degree in agricultural or agribusiness. I am a product of subificate.
So I started off with my small poultry farm.
My objective when I started was simple. We are going to produce healthy, organic, and affordable chicken and egg.
And because of that, we don’t use antibiotics. We don’t use multivitamins.
So in place of multivitamins, we were using sweet melon, carrots, and cabbage.
In place of antibiotics, we are using ginger and garlic.
When you’re doing a small scale venture the way I am doing, then you begin to see all the other problems in the sector.
All those statistics I was talking to you about earlier are experiences I learned after I started.
Because then I couldn’t afford feeds for my birds because the price of maize had gone from 8,000 to 36,000 and kept fluctuating drastically.
So I said, no, we need to do something about the value chain.
As a farmer I need to move to the future of farming, which is agribusiness.
I started by putting together, you know, influencers and community leaders.
So we developed a small machine that would enable farm efficiency.
This tool we got from Oklahoma State University and now thankfully we are successfully fabricating it now in Kaduna.
We were actually the first to do that, we’re already talking with people in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda to begin to export this because it costs about $150 to make one in the US we’re doing it for less than $40 in Nigeria.
I once asked for a lease of 500 hectares of land and the first thing the man said to me, he looked at me and said, what would you do with 500 hectares?
And I’m like, Oh, I’ll farm it.
Now we’ve got success and we have been able to engage 500 rural farmers.
One farmer per hectare. So we’re training these people and we’re also providing them with farm inputs, like hybrid seeds, fertilizers, and, you know, farm extension services.
We started that as a pilot and we hope to move across the board.
Then we decided with my team that for the pilot we will only do three items.
Corn, soybeans, and groundnuts reason is simple.
Those are the primary input of poultry feed. So 70% of poultry feed is those.
Now I solved that problem, at least for myself, for now, and other smallholder farmers around me.
But then the problem keeps coming.
You see, when we talk about innovation, people think drone agriculture.
That’s very beautiful. I love it. We talk about combined harvesters but that costs tons of money.
So I am not able to look in there yet. I’m looking at doing the simple things that help to improve productivity and improve the livelihood of rural farmers, increase productivity, and better al. of us, for starters.
That is us taking cell samples to the lab, where we test it and did yield a suitability analysis.
And we didn’t just plant. The average rural farmer in the country just plants a seed.
When you ask him, he says, well, that’s how my father did it. That’s how his father did it. And his father before him.
Why are you even planting two seeds in a hole? I tell you what, probably the corn he is planting is in its thirtieth generation.
After the fourth generation of the seed, please don’t put it in the soil, eat it.
I know the biggest problem. 60% of the cost of grain production goes to fertilizer. So what do we do? I learned about organic fertilizer.
So we have successfully created a cycle of zero waste agriculture. All the grain produced by the rural farmers goes to our feed mill.
The feed mill produces the feed for our fish and our chicken, the chicken eats and produce meat and egg.
Then the produce dropping, which is supposed to be an agricultural waste. No, we don’t waste it. We take all of that. And we collect all the grasses and other agricultural waste around us.
We use the chicken droppings to inoculate the grasses and turn it into organic fertilizer.
Only yesterday evening, my people were running the numbers and they told me actually, you know what? We save $9,000 in fertilizer costs.
I didn’t even know. This year alone we did 30 tonnes of organic fertilizer.
We need to go big with what we all do. But then remember I told you in all of these efforts, where’s the money coming from.
I’m the kind of person who is of the complaint generation that refuses to complain, wants to be an adaptive leader, and show results.
Because that is the only way I can make people believe in me and understand me and invest in me.
Farming in a suit
Our next baby, in case, you’re wondering why is this farmer wearing a suit is because I am the chief farmer in suits.
So our next baby, which ironically, I’m only unveiling today is the farmer in suits. It’s an investment solution that provides professionals, even rich students. Sometimes we have them bankers or ex-bankers or excellencies
Who have resources and understand the problem of global food security and want to invest and help him fighting this monster.
But either do not have the time or do not have the knowledge to be farmers or maybe they just don’t want to get dirty.
So I say look, we give you a guarantee on your money and a guarantee on profits, give us that money.
Together we are going to invest it in the rural farmers, but we are providing them with training, providing them with farming inputs, mechanization, improved seedlings.
We also provide a market for their products. So at the end of it, we buy up all the grains that they produce, put it in the feed mill. We make animal feed, give it to our animals, our poultry, and our fish.
When they are up to market size, what do we do? We process them and package them and send them to the cities and our farmer suits buy them.
So by extension, we achieve three things.
The first one is we are creating a platform where we’re able to find, investment, cheap investment for that matter from people who care to fund a system.
This system helps rural farmers. That system helps improve the agricultural production and productivity of the rural farmers.
That system helps to provide local jobs and our system helps to solve the food security challenge of the nation, Africa, and by extension the world.
A second thing we’re doing is that we are institutionalizing agriculture financing.
The banks can do whatever they want. We need to move away from this certificate mentality.
Because the educational system is designed to produce civil servants who are bureaucratic and push papers. The educational system is not designed to produce inventors and innovators. And we must begin to think outside and not outside the box. Who created the box?
Why the box? We just need to think like babies be free.
We need to be problem solvers, not problem complainers, not too much complaint.
The final thing we’re doing with the farmer in a suit is that we are democratizing prosperity through agriculture and agribusiness.
So ladies and gentlemen I want to tell you finally, it’s not the government, the politicians we disagree. It’s not the government, president, or the governors.
It’s not even the billionaires or the Dangote’s of our time. That will make agriculture better.
It is the aggregates achievements of individuals that will help build the economy. A final call, ladies, and gentlemen, wherever you are, whatever you do.
Whether you are a banker, a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer in your own little corners, please be a change maker. Be an adaptive leader, solve a problem.
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