He is one of the few graduates in the country who take pride in getting their hands soiled, while cultivating the soil.
Austin’s ingenuity and passion for farming has been transformed into a vocation, and the excellent results are evident in his co-owned brand, Greenfidence Agribusiness NG LTD. For this reason, Bismark’s Cave sought him for an interview.
Feast on it!
Q| Let’s Meet You.
A| I am Evabor Austin Akpevwe from Delta state. Co- founder/CEO of Greenfidence Agribusiness NG LTD. First class graduate of soil science and land management, University of Benin. I’m a passionate enthusiastic young farmer who believes that agriculture has an important role to play in curtailing the menace of unemployment and un-productivity that plagues the Nigerian youth.
Q| What type of farming do you practice?
A| Basically crop production and mini- livestock production that is grasscutter farming and snailery.
Q| What motivated you go into farming?
A| My passion for agriculture has been my driving force since my undergraduate days in the university, I started my first snail farm in 400level. Also,my strong desire to contribute to the growth of my community. Most importantly,Serving as a youth corper (NYSC) at the INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF TROPICAL AGRICULTURE, IITA Abuja, under the youth agripreneur team, was a great eye opener for me. I saw how the abuja youth agripreneur team were generating so much income from agribusiness. I was able to identify the various entry points in the agricultural value chain. I realized that if many Nigerian youths could see the millionaire potentials that lies in agriculture and embrace it, then the issues of unemployment, poverty, increased crime rate, and food insecurity in our community would be greatly reduced. This insight has propelled me to be a positive beacon to my generation, that through agribusiness we can!.
Q| Has it been a lucrative venture?
A| Yes it has. However agribusiness is not a get rich quick scheme. It requires patience, commitment, persistence and consistency to enjoy the fruits it offers. Also, very important to note is the need to have good knowledge of the sector before venturing into it. I have heard many people complain of how they couldn’t make any profit after giving it a try. Most times it is because of lack of proper technical know how. Agribusiness has its risks, but if properly done it is a very lucrative business.
Q| What keeps you going?
A| Generally, it’s my fear of failure. I fear living a mediocre life, so the desire to live my life to its full potentials and make global impact especially among young people propels me. I hope to see Nigerians in my time, discovering and utilising their potentials through entrepreneurship rather than waiting for little or non existent white collar jobs. Change begins with me, as Mr. President would say.
Q| Do you experience losses? What measures do you take to prevent losses?
A| Of course. I remember how I lost my first ever investment in rabbitery back in 400level because of loose commitment and lack of attention. Like I said earlier, agriculture has its own risk. There are times when you carry out all the routine management practices and agronomic practices yet an outbreak might just occur and your investment is gone. However, from my experience, one can prevent losses by;
1. Following all management practices keenly.
2. Pay proper attention to your crops or livestock and be ready to take prompt action whenever you notice any issues. Be on ground to see things happen, don’t be an absentee farmer
3. Always identify your market. Get customers who are already willing to buy before you embark on production. Don’t just assume there is market, identify yours.
4. God over everything. Always put God first, to bless the work of your hands.
Q| The Government has always advised fresh graduates to go embrace agriculture… As a young, growing farmer, is it feasible?
A| Yes it is. One would want to say, everybody in this country cannot be a farmer, yeah right, but everybody can create wealth and do something productive for a better Nigeria. The Chinese people are a great example. Every year, over 200,000 youths pass out from NYSC, with very limited jobs available for them. Many after so much search for the white collar jobs become frustrated and soon embrace cyber crime and all manner of crimes, wasting potentials of this great nation. The youths are the power house of any nation, show me a country with productive youths, I will show you a productive country. Today, agriculture offers a solution to unemployment and food insecurity in Nigeria. A young farmer with say one hectare of maize can generate so much income in less than 3 months, that he will be asking himself ‘why have I been wasting time. Also, you will see that by virtue of that farm, he’s also creating jobs for the rural youths. I can still remember how I felt when I paid a farm hand working in one of our field at greenfidence, and he said ‘oga thank you my school fees just complete”. The government cannot do it all, but we don’t have to rely on the government for us to fulfil purpose in life. I’m aware of the issue of capital to start up, that has been the major complaint people make, however, the government shouldn’t be your only option for you to start up. When there is a will, there is a way. I believe what the government should do first, and individuals should do for themselves is have a total mind renewal.
Q| We experience climate irregularities, what measure(s) do you take to ensure continuous yield, even when weather conditions are unfavourable?
A| One of the major effects of this climatic irregularities is inconsistency of the rains. Water is very important for crops. We practice simple irrigation farming in our fields close to a water source. For those that aren’t close to water bodies, we time our operations with the establishment of the rains, or plant rugged crops like cassava that can grow through wet and dry season.
Q| How much capital is needed to start up a farm? Your case for example.
A| The good thing about agribusiness is that you can start with any amount, because of its tremendous potential for expansion. I started my first snail farm with 2,000Naira back in 2013 (though it wasn’t a standard snailery) and my rabbitery with 15,000Naira. Today, that 2000Naira investment gave me knowledge with which I earn reasonable amount from training/consulting. With 50,000Naira one can invest in snailery and make so much profit. The last time I bought a snail in shop rite, Warri one snail sold for 800Naira. Young people have to understand that you have to start small, learn first, then earn big as you expand. Today our farms at Greenfidence are worth far more than the 17,000Naira I started with back in 2013.
Q| Are there bodies capable of granting agric loans to farmers?
A| Yes, plenty of them. Currently, the government in collaboration with CBN, Bank of industry, bank of agriculture has made funds available in a bid to attract more youths to the sector. Even private individuals like Tony Elumelu have foundations that provide funds for bankable business ideas. They are all available online. Young farmers can take advantage of these.
Finally, I would like to beseech young people to take responsibility of their lives. Dream big, believe in yourself, plan and take action. There is no limit to what you can achieve. Everything is possible. You never know how far you can go, till you start. Stay connected to God, and give HIM a work to bless for you.
I am very much open to sharing ideas, and connecting with other young farmers across the country. Let’s connect, as we contribute our quota in making Nigeria and Africa great again. #TurnYourFriendsToBusinessPartners
For enquiries on best agronomic practices, improved seeds, and consultancy, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow us on facebook; https://www.facebook.com/greenfidence/