My name is Tunde Olufemi, I’m 28 years old. I live in Abeokuta and i recently bought a duplex building at Ibara Housing Estate worth over 30 million naira, as its Eighteen months since I worked at the car wash and barely had enough to feed my family. Now I’m going to tell you how a casual meeting changed my life and gave me the chance to earn 100,000 Naira a day.
I’ll tell you a little about myself. Poverty – that’s how I would describe my whole life. My parents lived in poverty, I never went to university. After finishing school, I went to work at a car wash. When I was young, my salary was sufficient for me. But when I got married and my son was born, I started getting into serious financial problems and permanent debt. What to do – I had no idea; the debts were mounting but I couldn’t quit the job because it was my only source of income.
One afternoon a new Black Chevrolet SUV 2014 model, came to the car wash. A young man stepped out of the car, he looked to be around 30 to 35. I was always amazed how young people could earn so much money. I said to myself quietly: “What do you have to do to drive a car like that?” But he heard me and laughed. Farming Business,” – he said and went away.
Those two words changed my life forever. When I got home, I sat down at the computer and started looking for some mentions and articles on how to be a successful farmer, I searched and searched and kept reading lots of articles till i got so tired that I slept off on the chair. And so, a month passed: during the day I would work at the car wash, and by night I would read dozens of forums to understand how to use farming business association platform. One grateful day, I found the Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Ogun State Chapter. I went out of keen interest to associate with other farmers and see how the association can come up to sensitize the youth more about agriculture. Maybe before I share what I experienced, I tell you a brief about AFAN.
AFAN is an association for farmers in Nigeria. It is made-up of what is referred to as commodity associations. The commodity associations are based on the commodity a farmer produces. The commodity could be maize, cassava poultry, oil palm, snails etc. Thus under the AFAN you have members of commodity associations such as Snail Farmers’ Association, Poultry Farmers’ Association to mention a few. These commodity associations meet in groups at agreed dates. However, once a month they all come together under the AFAN umbrella to discuss matters related to the progress of the farmers. With this background in mind, the meeting had a total of 30 farmers in attendance with 8 been women. One interesting fact I observed was that the meeting was conducted in the local dialect (Yoruba) and this was because of the presence of mostly rural farmers. It is sad though to note that only five out of all of us in attendance were youths. Others were old farmers who were well along in age. I noted the following during their deliberations:
- There was low turn up of the farmers to the meeting
- The farmers only show-up when matters related to fund allocation from the government are discussed
- The Bank of Agriculture was slow in processing of loans for the farmers and even when the loans were given they got them at very high interest rate
- The poultry farmers were presently facing the problem of ‘egg gloat’ which has brought business to a halt for them
Despite all these, the farmers I noticed are not losing hope, but are persistent and so I was too. I started with a very little sum of money of about #50,000. I started snail farming , after maturity i sold them to bars, restaurant and notably fast food eatery. But my breakthrough came after diversifying into fishery because that is where the majority of my profit comes from currently. I borrowed empty ponds, joined some associations that assisted farmers financially. The President of the association encouraged networking and partnership with one another and try their hands on loans as a group rather than as individuals. Those present were given information that would prove helpful for them such as:
- The Agric Credit Scheme by the Apex Bank, Central Bank of Nigeria that had just kicked off
- The list of crops and livestock that would have focus as announced by the Federal Government. They included maize, cotton, cattle, wheat, cassava, poultry etc
- The guaranteed price list released by the government was also read out to the farmers.
I had the privilege of speaking and I expressed my desire to gain experience from the older farmers but that there was need for them to also work to sensitize young people on the need to actively engage in agriculture despite the challenges that come with it. It was agreed there and then that this would be incorporated in their radio program in the weeks to come and that a capacity building program would be planned for young people in the state. This gladdened my heart and I cannot wait to be part of the hands that would bring change to agriculture by bringing on board other young people in the near future. This is why I decided to use Lavender Microfinance Bank, to help spread the news as they supported my business a lot.
I hope this story of mine serve as a motivation for you.