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Kebbi’s farmlands: Business opportunities for Nigerian entrepreneurs

Aminu Abubakar hopes to start a haulage company one day. At the moment though, he works as a labourer with a transportation company in Kebbi State. On the average, 50 trucks ply the Suru Rice Market a few kilometres away from Brinin Kebbi, the state capital, loading about 400 to 500 bags of 75 kg of paddy rice. That is just in Suru Market.

In Labana Rice Mills Farms in Birnin Kebbi, more than 30 trucks loaded with 500 to 1,000 bags of paddy rice make delivery every day; one of the workers on the facility said. In the state, there are more than 1,000 trucks and 20 trucking companies and yet, the farmers are in search for more.

According to Abubakar, a haulage company is one of the limitless business opportunities in the agriculture sector of Nigeria. The “sector that is 40 per cent of GDP and 70 per cent of employment,” according in the words of former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwumi Adesina, offers unlimited business opportunities for those looking to invest in the sector, according to entrepreneurs in the sector.

Such opportunities include: input production and supply enterprises, staple food crop production enterprise, industrial crop production enterprises, livestock production enterprises, fisheries enterprises, forestry enterprises, and commodity processing and storage enterprises. Others are agricultural commodity marketing, agro-industry/manufacturing, agricultural commodity export, and agricultural support services, according to an IITA research paper entitled “Agriculture in Nigeria: Identifying opportunities for increased commercialisation and investment”, funded by the USAID.

On a week-long visit to Kebbi State, many farmers who engaged with Entrepreneurship+ said business opportunities are opened in their state. According to them, the opportunity in value chain delivery has the potential “of high return on investment.”

“Value chains reside at the core of high-impact and sustainable initiatives focused on improving productivity, competitiveness, entrepreneurship, and SME growth,” Martin Webber in “Using Value Chain Approaches in Agribusiness and Agriculture in Sub-Saharahn Africa”, prepared for the World Bank,” noted. And as many Nigerians operating in the agriculture sector have said, the subset of the industry has the capacity to not only “fundamentally develop the country and reduce poverty, it has the capacity for entrepreneurial growth.”

Across the farmlands in Kebbi State, the farmers and the state government identified the following as opportunities inherit in their state, thus calling for entrepreneurs to invest:

 

Farming

According to Muhammad Umar Bello, Programme Coordinator, Kebbi Agriculture Rural Development Authority, “there is an abundant business opportunity for farming in Kebbi State. As you may have learnt, Kebbi has more than 600,000 square kilometres of arable FADAMA land to farm alone, along with “thousands and thousands of farm lands for other farm produce.”

Entrepreneurship+’s investigations revealed that to farm as a non indigene of the state, one needs a large capital base, except one is captured under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Anchor Borrowers Programme. To access the land, there are those who are willing to rent out hectares of land for five years or less, depending on the investor. More information on how to access funds will be treated in subsequent editions of the Entrepreneurship+.

 

Equipment rentals

Alhaji Danjuma Bisi, who owns 250 hectares of farmland, cultivating rice, beans, maize, etc, said an urgent area for investment is equipment rentals. According to him, “more than 80 per cent of Kebbi farmers farm manually.” There are those who are leasing agricultural equipment in the state he said, but they are few.

 

Silos/Storage facilities

Although this area is capital intensive, those who are interested in charging a fee to help farmers preserve their farm produce may find this opportunity interesting. Yusuf Isa, Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kebbi State Chapter said the state is expecting to produce more than one million metric tonnes of rice in another six months. In a few years, with the level of investments coming into the rice farming, he said there is a huge potential for silos and storage facilities business. Apart from rice, millets, maize, groundnuts, and other crops will need storage/silos for preservation, the Acting Permanent Sectary to the state’s Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Muhammad Lawal Sheu said.

 

Extension workers

Sulaimon Hamidu, an extension worker in Gulma, a village in Argungu LGA, Kebbi State, who has been an extension worker in the state almost 15 years said there is an opportunity for more extension workers to serve as trainers and/or consultants on food production in the state. According to him, “we need more extension workers in Kebbi State and if you know anyone who wants to come and do business with us, please tell them.”

 

Agrochemicals

Although 78,000 farmers are currently receiving agrochemicals from the ABP programme, there are more than 200,000 (registered and unregistered) farmers in the state who are sourcing for their own agrochemicals, a farmer, Halidu Maigari, said.