Farming is no longer for illiterates: Top 5 farmers in Nigeria who are university graduates
Around the year 1960, agriculture was Nigeria’s main economic booster. That was a period during which Nigeria was noted internationally for the exportation of crops such as groundnuts, cocoa, palm oil, cotton, and so on. When Nigeria had its focus on agriculture as a major backbone for the economy, revenue generation from the exportation of cash crops was at its best. Not only that, an average Nigerian had no food problems like what is obtainable today, and food production was also at a sufficient level despite the predominant use of traditional methods (not mechanized farming) by the local producers of these crops.
Back then, Nigeria accounted for 42% of the world’s total export of groundnuts with a total export volume of 502,000 metric tonnes (MT) in 1961. With 167,000MT which accounts for 27% of the world’s export of palm oil, Nigeria was the largest producer of palm oil in 1961 and cocoa farmers were significantly noted for wealth in the early years of independence as Nigeria accounted for 18% of the global export volume for cocoa in 1961. This enviable position of Nigerian agriculture was lost due to the neglect of the sector as soon as the discovery of oil in the country. Now, Nigeria cannot boast of exporting significant quantities of these crops. In fact, local food production is not sufficient to feed Nigeria’s teeming population. Nigeria has completely shifted its position from been one of the largest exporters of food commodities to be the largest importer of food commodities. Because of this, Billions of Naira that should have been used for significant development projects are been spent on food commodities.
Over the years, the further neglect of agriculture stems from the fact that agriculture has been labeled a profession for poor, illiterate, and backward people. Only God knows how many Nigerian youths bought into this demonic idea which, of course, is totally a lie! As a result, many young people do not want to venture into agriculture – they don’t want to be labeled as a farmer. More than anything else, this has contributed much more negatively to the food production and exportation which Nigeria is witnessing today.
Despite all these gaps and misconceptions of agriculture as a career, Nigeria is proud to have some young men who have understanding and insight into the power of agriculture and the wealth it can unleash if we turn away from our neglect of it. In this article, we present to you amazing young men who are top 10 farmers in Nigeria and are graduates – these are the ones who are defying the popular but erroneous opinions about being correctly educated and being a farmer at the same time:
- Ogochukwu Maduako
Ogochukwu Maduako is a Farmer and a recycler. She recycles eggshells (a poultry’s by-product) into a bio-material called CALCIUM. She is a graduate of Abia State University Uturu, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Agricultural Economics & Extension and currently she’s closing out on her Master’s Degree in International Economics & Finance at the Department of Agriculture in Rivers State University.
Eggshells are a great source of calcium, which when recycled into powdered form can be used in a variety of ways in agricultural practice, and in our day-to-day life. For instance, it can be used as a natural fertilizer for the soil; it is a good calcium supplement in snail farming as well as in raising poultry layers for the good formation of their shells. It is essential in the farming and production of strawberries, bell pepper, watermelon, etc. Interestingly, it is consumed by humans as well. For Ogochukwu, practicing agriculture as a female is fun and she said notably that being a female farmer significantly stands her out wherever she goes. “It gives me the edge to be known and noticed easily, and most especially people get thrilled at the fact that I recycle what other people see as waste”, she said.
- Rotimi Williams
Rotimi Williams is a 35-year old Nigerian entrepreneur who owns Nigeria’s second-largest rice farm. Rotimi Williams is a former journalist and the owner of Kereksuk Rice Farm, the second-largest commercial rice farm in Nigeria by land size. His farm, which is situated in Nasarawa state in northern Nigeria, currently sits on 45,000 hectares and employs more than 600 natives of Nasarawa.
Nigerians consume more than 5 million MT of rice every year, with a significant portion of that figure sourced from imports. Rotimi Williams, who is an ambitious Nigerian entrepreneur and rice farmer, is on a quest to change that. Rotimi is working hard to achieve that goal and he holds brilliant ideas on how Nigeria can attain self-sufficiency in rice production in the near future.
Rotimi Williams attended King’s College in Lagos, after which he proceeded to obtain his first degree at the University of Aberdeen where he graduated with a degree in Economics. He also obtained a Master’s Degree in Economics from the same institution. His quest for more knowledge led him to enroll for yet another Master’s Degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London where he gained an MSc. in Finance and Development Studies. Upon graduation, he landed a role as an analyst at the European Economics and Financial Centre in London.
At a point, he had the privilege of traveling around a few African countries where he saw that the potentiality of agriculture as being at the very core of these countries, and this got him thinking. After some time, he decided to move back to Nigeria and sink his teeth into the agricultural space. He later dropped his banking career to focus on agriculture, the source for funding and kickstarted. Although things weren’t smooth at the beginning but his tenacity and persistence got him through all the challenges faced at the starting stage. Today his rice farm holds the record of being the second-largest rice-producing farm in Nigeria.
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- Evaristus Aki (Jnr)
Evaristus Aki (Jnr) is a graduate of Forestry who has coined the name, Aki Tech Nigeria Limited for his company, Aki benefitted from a training organized by FADAMA World Bank assisted programme. His farm which is located in the hinterland in Benue State is just one hectare but Aki has utilized every available space for a small hut that serves as storage and resting place for him and seasonal crops. His love for farming has its roots in his family where his father, a civil servant took to farming as a side hustle. According to him, his father earned more from farming and there was always surplus food in the house. “My father would always tell us that farming is the best way of saving money”, he said. On Aki’s farm, his crops record up to 10 tonnes per hectare because of the quality of seeds he buys from seed companies and research institutes. He supplies to the local market and would greatly welcome an opportunity to supply to the market in the metropolis. He is one of the university graduates in Nigeria who are successful farmers.
- Aro Oyeniyi
Aro Oyeniyi is a graduate of marine engineering and he is also a certified project manager who has been a fish farmer since 2012 and his motivation came from another fish farmer. During his course of study in Lagos, he met a fish farmer whose daily routine and diligence towards his job inspired him to go into fish farming. Aro Oyeniyi later went on to start a farm he named AFEAA Farms.
- Emmanuel Ukachi
Emmanuel Ukachi is a fish farmer who went into the business because he could not get any job for three years after he had bagged a degree in Political Science from one of Nigeria’s universities. Emmanuel graduated with a second-class upper degree in Political Science but when he could not get a reasonable job for three years, he had to do casual jobs that did not pay much until he attended an entrepreneurship empowerment programme where he was taught fish farming.
Emmanuel decided to go into fish farming and it was not quite easy at all at the beginning and he even lost a lot of money because of some mistakes due to lack of experience in the business. Eventually, when he kept losing money and fishes, Ukachi sought a partner who knew a lot about fish farming. Today, they are both running the business successfully. Emmanuel’s partner is the brains of the business while he is the pocket, and today Emmanuel is a successful farmer with a thriving fish farm.
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