With more than 60% of its 1.166 billion people living in rural areas, Africa’s economy is inherently dependent on agriculture. More than 32% of the continent’s gross domestic product comes from the sector. However, This is reflective of the applications received to date by the Tony Elumelu Foundation, with over 30% of total applications received from agriculture, 864 selected entrepreneurs and $4,320,000 disbursed in seed capital to entrepreneurs in the Agriculture sector. However, The single most pressing challenge facing us as Africans is to harness the continent’s increasing wealth and use it to improve people’s lives. Agriculture is at the heart of that challenge. To reduce poverty and boost economic growth, Africa will have to develop a vibrant and prosperous agricultural sector.
In Nigeria and Gambia, Chukwuma Akubue and Mbadibba Jameh like the 864 Agriculture entrepreneurs empowered by the TEF are at the heart of bringing solutions to the challenges in Agriculture presents, we recently had a chat with these hub leads recently and they shared their solutions with us.
TEF: Tell us about your business
I’m Chukwuma Akubue Thomas and I run Fecundo Chumee Global Farms Limited in Umudioka Town Dunukofia. L.G.A Anambra State. Fecundo is Greek word for Fertile or Flourish which is synonymous with agriculture. We started out as a cooperative in 2015 to fill up the gaps and scarcity of products or farms around the locality, Umudioka township and in 2016 we were incorporated. Long before then I had helped significantly to manage my parents poultry farm while I just graduated from school, we just had a staff as at the time with fewer customers who lined up their buckets on a daily basis for egg products. We produced 500 Broilers at first in 2015 and then we began to produce Layers. Solid Waste was also part of the product. Later we opened up a Sales point at Afor-Igwe Market where we sold our raw egg products ,chicken layer products and broiler products to various Customers.
I’m Mbadibba Jammeh, The banana farm is an agri-business venture founded and legally registered for banana production. The farm has as its main activities to farm and produce organic bananas.
TEF: What is unique about your business and what service or solution does it offer?
Poultry production is an age long business which has existed for decades, it had also existed in Nigeria from time immemorial however commercial poultry which has evolved recently and its practice has been adopted but only a few people could actually manage and sustain commercial poultry plus give it the attention, modernisation and distinct features it deserves.
I have been able to distinguish my business in terms of management style due to the need to evolve from the stereotypical poultry farmers who have poultry farms but do not react constantly to the growing need of institutionalising their poultry farms. My zeal to evolve is evidence by my making myself available in getting trained by various world-class institutions such and innovate plus putting to practice what we have learnt. This has made me improve in the business and its growth.
Our Solution or products boost Nutrition and Curbs Malnutrition, provides the society with rich protein and serves as healthy raw materials or inputs and food to Various customers such as Pastries(egg-row, meat-pie, fish-pie etc events, schools, hotels, egg merchants, supermarkets, shopping malls, large eateries and restaurants ,gardens and Hotels for Broilers, multinationals and last but not the least consumers or families etc
The Gambia my country almost all the bananas on sale are imported from neighboring Senegal. For that reason they are expensive. Most of the quality bananas imported into my country are not organic.
Our path begins with the mission to provide high quality non chemical bananas for consumption at affordable prices to the community.
TEF: What was your vision for your business from the outset and How many employees do you currently have?
My Vision for My Business is to become an Integrated Poultry Farmer with various Value added products from its Primary Finished goods which include to be able Incubate, raise parent stock of breeds of chicken which support incubation, grow day old chicks, raise them for point of lay sales and for egg Sales ,to package the eggs properly and make them good for shipment to process and package our Broilers. To Mill our feeds for the chickens to use, to sell waste products etc We have about 3full staff 2 part time staff and one contract staff at the moment
My vision is to be the leading organic banana producer in The Gambia by the year 2020. Currently we have four permanent staff and two part time staff. One of the permanent staff is a naive of the community where we have the farm. The CEO provides entrepreneurship training and mentorship to young people in the community.
TEF: What challenges have you encountered since you started out your business?
We have high cost of inputs such as feed and drugs. Poultry is very capital intensive and need capital for expansion. The recession in the country characterised by inflation for key products such as fuel, scarcity of a few vital products has led to reduction in real value of currency and by implication salaries or wages.
We have encountered challenges such as difficulty in transporting our egg products which are brittle to urban locations or customers such as in Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi without having losses plus we have importation of poultry products such as broiler, layers and turkey which are produced at a lower rate and shipped into our country
The major challenge faced is the technology to explore the value chain and branding.
TEF: What would you say was a key benefit for you from the TEF programme and How has the mentoring, training and funding from the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme helped you grow your business?
TEF Impacted Significantly on my Business the Fund enabled us grow in terms of number of Chickens especially Egg Layers by out 500percent in 2016, the training helped us learn so many things in order to develop our businesses, starting small and growing to become an institution. How to realign our business towards set targets, meet our value propositions and still build on them to make us unique. Other Topics were but not limited to branding, governance, institutionalising, packaging, Marketing, structuring of our Business Team etc and It gave us the necessary platform and Hub to network, discover other entrepreneurship opportunities and get recognised from other platforms in Nigeria and all over the world.
In 2016 The Banana Farm was part of 1000 business ideas selected to transform Africa by the Tony Elumelu Foundation. In a subsequent year 2017, I was elected as the TEF hub lead for The Gambia. TEF has boosted my confidence in entrepreneurship. Firstly I was trilled for being part of the 1000 selected. The entrepreneurship toolkit training excites me, in that I was able to conduct a market research, construct a business plan and register my business to be a legal entity. The seed capital provided a life for my idea to start a banana farm.
TEF: What plans do you have to expand and increase capacity of your business?
What plans do you have to expand and increase Capacity of your business?
Our Mid-Terms Goals are to commence Hatcheries and Feed Mill. On this we have same reason as Point-of-Lay as to Hatcheries and we hope to utilise Solar-Heat-Energy Incubators for this while we have commenced intensive training on hatchery and feed milling. Feed Mill is very vital because it is a key component in breeding chickens. We are looking at preventing effect of erratic prices and shortages of products from dealers also which affect chicken Feeding Habits, growth, productivity and health. Further are to commence any of Piggery, Snailing and Grassccutters,
We are also confident to expand soon into the Capital of Anambra State which is Awka plus have sales outlets in Awka,Onitsha and Nnewi Townships which have a higher population of citiozens with higher per-capital income due the business nature of the towns or density of civil servants and or socio economic activities.. We intend to go into partnership for crop product such as cucumber, Ugwu leaf and potato etc and eventually soon transfer our livestock and poultry production.
Our long-term goals are to run an integrated poultry, livestock and farm crop solution, partner with solution who manufacture and supply manufacturing equipment, provide health veterinary clinics for livestock, research on drugs so as to enable substitution and to build capacity of rural farmers by building an agriculture business and training institution.
Since bananas are agroforestry, they take time to generate revenue, we have vegetable garden to subsidize the operational cost of the farm. The second phase of the growth strategy is to explore the value chain with value added products of processed banana fruits into jam, fresh juice and cake. This phase is unique in my country. Part of the strategic growth plan is to use the banana stems to produce paper. This involves a technology that converts the stems. So these papers will be sold for more revenue and waste is hence managed.
TEF: How can people reach to you if they want any of your services?
Our Sales Outlet is at Umudioka Township while Battery Cage Production takes place at Akubue’s Farmland Umdioka Township and Deep Littre System at our Extension Farmland at Ogidi Township In Anambra State. Social Media Handles: email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We can be reached through our website www.thebananafarm.biz drop us an email on email@example.com or call us on + (220) 7193323