Habeebat Bamidele is the Founder and Managing Director of Bambee farms in Kwara State. In this interview by YUSUF ABDULKADIR, she talks about her experience in farming, her short and long-term career goals.
Why did you venture into farming?
What prompted my engagement into farming was my long-term goal of promoting sustainable agriculture by putting an end to hunger, poverty and many others. As it is known that food is a necessity for every human and lack of it can lead to various problems like malnutrition, death amongst others. And I believe farming is the source of food supply which should be embraced and promoted to achieve a poverty and hunger free world.
As an agricultural enthusiast, what has been your greatest achievement?
Till date one of my greatest achievements as an agricultural enthusiast is training over 1,500 youths, men & women on farming and agribusiness. Individuals from different part of the country were trained adequately both physically and virtually which I believe the beneficiaries of this program would also continue spreading the good course of bringing more people to the agricultural industry there by making life better for all.
Have you ever hard it difficult and thought to quit farming, how did you handle it?
Yes, I have had the thought several times. Farming is very challenging especially when there are no enough funds. I have had times where climate change affected plant growth leading to poor yield, produce theft, vandalization of hives etc. With the help of God and my partner I was able to overcome the challenges and move on.
How do you think technology has impacted the agricultural sector?
The technology I would like to emphasize on here is digital technology; it has impacted my agricultural business greatly. I started marketing my agricultural products online and I never for once regretted it. It also gives me the opportunity to meet with farmers across all regions, it serves as a medium to network, learn, train and earn. It helps me reach a larger audience beyond Kwara state. Also, some technology has impacted the agriculture sector in great way but it’s not really enough in Nigeria and most people can’t afford the available ones. So I believe technology is a great factor that can help promote the agricultural sector and bring in huge transformation in all ramifications.
In what ways do you think agriculture can boost the nation’s economy?
I strongly believe agriculture can help put an end to hunger as all food supplies comes from agriculture. It can also help reduce poverty by generating income for farmers and non-farmers and help reduce unemployment that has so far eaten to the fabric of Nigeria’s structure which therefore makes it difficult for the Nigerian government to eradicate and ease other facets that will make life bearable for all and sundry.
What are your short and long-term career goals?
Some of my short-term goals are to empower & train youths on agriculture/agribusiness, increase my brand Bambee Farm’s visibility and reach more customers for our agricultural products and develop more. While my Long-term goals is to be one of the leading producers of well packaged, healthy agricultural products in Nigeria and also to be an agricultural advocate leader that promote sustainable agriculture in Nigeria and beyond.
What are some of the challenges you face as a young entrepreneur?
Insecurity challenge is one of the greatest challenges that limit most of my farming activities though I work within and outside my state but not as much as I would really love to explore agriculture. On bee keeping aspect, security is also another challenge we face as people steal honey from hives that has been well colonized. Financial challenge as well, it also limits production but I always try my best to make use of the available resources.
What would you describe as the most difficult aspect of working on a farm as a lady?
As a lady I will consider Insecurity and traveling around most especially to farms beyond Kwara state where I live as some of the most difficult aspect of farm work I have encountered, it is not easy at all.
You produce honey, how do you do it?
Yes, I started producing honey in 2022 even though I have learnt about bee keeping during my undergraduate days and also from experts. Honey production is not for the fainthearted but I love doing it. Honey is produced by keeping bees in man-made hives. The hives are made from special woods and constructed to fit the bee’ needs. Bee hives will be bait and place in a well secured, reserved site with lots of vegetations. The hives will be left for days or months to colonize (bees enter the hives), after colonization hive inspection and management should also be carried out few times in a month to see their progress. The vegetations serve as food source for the bees. The worker bees go out to feed on flowers and tree pollens to provide food for themselves, queen and young bees. After some months the bees would have multiplied and produce honey in combs. The honeycomb will be harvested and honey will be extracted from the comb and then we bottle, package and seal to avoid any form of contamination. Also honey is not the only products produced by bees; they produce bees wax, propolis with lots of benefits and uses as well. I will like to add that bee keeping also called Apiculture is very sustainable and also help increase agricultural yield via pollination.
Is there anyone you are looking up to in your chosen career and are you training others?
I won’t like to mention names but I have quite a number of great individuals that I look up to in the agricultural industry and I get motivated by them every day and time. These individuals are the best and I hope to keep learning from them.
What other activities do you engage in aside farm work?
Agribusiness, agricultural consultation, volunteering and project management are other activities I engaged in the most.
Have you ever experienced any gender bias in your field of work?
No, I don’t think that is still in existence. I haven’t experienced any ever since I started this work. I’m very glad females are now being recognised in the Agricultural sector. I see nothing like gender bias in the farm industry, even though the men are been called upon when the work is too hectic for the females to handle, yet nothing like discrimination. And I am so happy females are now getting the opportunity to manage, supervise, and oversee farm activities.
What are your advice to young Nigerians who are depending on government for white collar jobs?
Yes, it is not easy out there; there is no doubt about that. My advice to my dearest colleagues out there without a job is to look into entrepreneurship or agripreneurship sectors as there are also lots of soft skills and opportunities out there, depending on how you are able to maximize it. Look for opportunities that are not government based, find out what suits you and make the most out of it. Start small, learn, be patient and grow, Rome was not built in a day. With great determination, consistency, prayer, hard work you will scale through and earn as much as you desire.
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