Edobong Akpabio, an agroprenur who is the Chief Operating Officer of Visionage Integrated farms has said that the cassava revolution training programmes put together by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo spurred her interest into farming.
She said, she attended some of the training programmes and her interest was increased and she was impacted seriously.
“I was interested in many things, but one of the things that interested me about agriculture at the time was that President Olusegun Obasanjo decisively putting together the cassava revolution with a lot of training programmes everywhere, and I attended some of them, hence interest was increased, and I was impacted very seriously,” she said.
Akpabio who has an enterprise that deals with processing poultry and fish product explained that she had always know that she will have her own business someday and that at the time she have her business, she was determined to make farming a big business in her life time.
She said there are lots of support groups and other organisations that are willing to impact farming potentials on Nigerians to ensure that youths in the country are interested and willing to invest in agriculture.
“Initially my interest was on cassava, but by the time I sat down to look at it, I see that I could do so many other things I was already a trainer in training consultant”, she said.
She added that most of the information she got really improve her capacity, stressing that she now provides training and capacity building for agropreneurs side by side with her business.
“I realise that we have serious knowledge and information deficit, many people going into business to invest without necessarily having knowledge of what it requires or the mentoring and counseling support they need. So I am doing more of that now alongside my business,” she said.
Akpabio, who has been in business for 10 years now said the major challenge encountered during the course of the business is poor infrastructure.
She said all business people are suffering poor infrastructure, and that the production cost of farming have increased as a result of poor infrastructural facilities in the country.
“Our cost of production is high because of poor infrastructure, a situation where you will be your local government, you buy land and you get your own water, your own generator, you provide your own security and many other infrastructure portend dangers for farmers in the country”
It is unfortunate that if you are buying any farmland and there is no drainage, you have to construct your drainage apart from building your own premises, and the cost is very high when compared to producing the farm products,” she lamented.
According to Apkabio, “agriculture is not a business that you will have quick returns, so it is a persevering sector. You work with your passion and you spend your money and more time in trying to reach more customers and trying to maximize the quality of your product”.
Speaking on sourcing funds from government or banks, she said:
“We know where to source for fund, we know where the fund is, but we don’t want to source for the funds now. We want to source for the fund when we need to, very soon we will need that fund when we need to improve on our current infrastructure, current machineries and that will require lots of money.
“Fortunately there are funding initiatives that are designated for that purpose of business. They are not looking forward to give you money to go and buy land; they are looking at giving you money to buy machineries,” she said.