Growing up in Kogi State, Nigeria, with parents who were both entrepreneurs, Abednego Jeremiah was exposed to the idea of business at a very young age. These experiences eventually led him into the Agricultural sector where he has established his business Kezzabed Farms Nigeria Limited. Recently, Jeremiah launched a new product called the Seldavine Tree Tracker through the processing arm of his company, Seldaven Concept.
He met with the Tony Elumelu Foundation team to speak about this product and his business in general.
Q: Tell us how you found yourself in the Agricultural sector as a thriving entrepreneur?
A: Being a member of a farming family, in a community of about 86 houses and 251 residents, I grew up around farming activities. In fact, some stages of my academic pursuits were sponsored with revenue from farming. However, my choice to become an entrepreneur was put to test after investing almost all my NYSC stipend into cassava production and watching tons of my anticipated harvest rot in the soil due to excess rainfall.
I was torn between quitting or developing the cassava value chain for me and other farmers in my community. The need to develop the cassava value chain resulted in the establishment of Kezzabed farms Nigeria limited which handles cassava production and Seldaven Concept, its processing arm.
Q: Since your inception, what has your company achieved so far?
A: Both businesses create an average of 97 agricultural jobs yearly. Through partnerships, equity, grants and seed capital; we have attracted about $32,217 to Omala local government area, with $8,516 going into the economy of 7 villages in the form of wages and payments.
I am an awardee of the youth enterprise with innovation in Nigeria (YOUWIN) through partnership, 2016 Elumelu entrepreneur, an alumnus of the Young African Leaders initiative regional leadership centre and a delegate to the Synergos/Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation National Dialogue on youths and agricultural diversity.
Q: What unique services and solutions does your business offer?
A: In addition to rendering cassava processing services to farmers across four rural communities, our products include garri, cassava flour, stems and tubers. We are also experimenting the use of cassava peelings as poultry feeds and starch recovery from cassava extract.
Q: What inspired the creation of the Seldavine Tree Tracker?
A: The need to address two major challenges resulted in the development of Seldavine Tree Tracker. The first is the lack of comprehensive data on planting and felling of trees across most countries of the world. All that we rely on is complex satellite imagery. The second challenge is the low income that millions of farmers are forced to endure due to restriction to small markets and customer base.
Q: How does the Seldavine Tree Tracker work and what is its purpose?
A: Seldavine Tree Tracker wants to ensure that relevant stakeholders working on the environment or climate change mitigation or adaptation have reliable data on trees being planted across the world based on the upload by those directly involved in the planting, or report of tree felling from those living in communities where it’s taking place. The team is also working to link the forestry department of countries to our database, so they can get updates relevant to their countries almost immediately, while the forest fire button will be linked to the fire brigade department.
The report boundary dispute button is inspired by the unique African initiative of resolving border dispute by planting trees. We encourage the planting of trees and to track the trees along such disputed border. On uploading, both parties to the conflict and a witness will receive an email stating the resolution of the dispute, location and landmarks while Seldavine Tracker will get all the above in addition to the coordinates of the tree.
Q: What are the benefits of this new product for farmers and other players in the Agribusiness?
A: For the farmers, the app allows them to plant and track their trees, earn points for planting trees that they can use to negotiate a discount when using the trading floor while showcasing the positive environmental impact of these trees as a unique selling point for their products and farm produce across the world. Other benefits of this app include; encouraging farmers in areas prone to cattle grazing to explore tree planting, aggregation millions of small-holder farmers into key players in the emerging green economy and creating productive relationships between farmers and the department of forestry.
Q: How do people use the app?
A: On downloading the app and registering, the farmer will need to turn on the location on their phones to take a picture of the tree through the app. The coordinates of the tree are generated immediately, and the farmer can upload it alongside the number, type of tree and address. We also took into consideration the fact that some farmers may live in communities without little or no access to the internet. For this reason, we made provision for manually inputting coordinates through the help of hand-held GPS. We will achieve this in collaboration with the relevant forestry departments.
Q: What challenges did you encounter during the creation process and how did you solve or mitigate them?
A: The major challenges were mental and financial. Most nights I found myself fluctuating between generating ideas to be implemented on the App and listening to an inner voice asking, “who are you to attempt something so novel and ground-breaking?” or “where will the funding to see it through come from?”
I also got phone calls from a friend advising me to focus my efforts on survival instead of worrying about the planet. But through hard work, positive self-esteem, ability to delay gratification and the painstaking effort of the developers at Nhub Jos, Plateau State, the Seldavine Tree tracker is live and tracking roughly 10,000 trees in several countries with support from team members and friends cutting across over nine countries.
Q: In what ways has the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Programme influenced the creation of this product?
A: Having a positive self-esteem played major role in every stage of developing Seldavine Tree Tracker and TEF was key in fortifying it, not only by choosing to ‘bet on the Jockey (entrepreneur) and not the horse (a particular business) but assigning me to the best mentor in the world—Indy Bissessur.
We are also riding the waves of one of the pillars of Africapitalism, which is Regional Connectivity, to scale Seldavine Tree Tracker across Africa and the globe.
Q: In what ways do you think the TEFConnect platform can benefit or aid the usage and visibility of this product?
A: We have five regional representatives covering Africa, four are Mandela Washington fellows and two of the fellows are Elumelu entrepreneurs. TEFConnect is home to entrepreneurs cutting across the 54 African countries. These great entrepreneurs can use the reach of their network and weight of their name to make a case for the adoption and use of Seldavine Tree Tracker in their respective countries.
To contact Abednego Jeremiah, send an email here: firstname.lastname@example.org
The app is available on Google Play Store under the name, Seldavine Tree Tracker.