African Harvesters had Agribusiness conversations with Mrs. Nwaneri Olubukola, CEO of Naija Pride Agribusiness Global Ltd. The interview was centered around Access to Markets, off taking, Post Harvest Loss (PHL), Agribusiness consulting, challenges in Nigerian Agricultural landscape and many more
African Harvesters: Tell us about yourself and your Agribusiness
Nwaneri Olubukola: My name is Mrs. Nwaneri Olubukola and I am the CEO of Naija Pride Agribusiness Global Ltd situated in Lafiaji, Lagos Island. I was formerly in an 8-5pm administrative job before venturing into farming (poultry) about 8 years ago while also trading in Grains from the Northern part of the country down to the South. Naija Pride came on stream about a year and a half ago and the name “Naija Pride” implies that we as Nigerians should start feeding ourselves and stop relying on imported food items. We have more than enough food in this country to feed our population and we should be proud of our production. We operate in the food chain in a bulk buyer and offtaker capacity with products like tomatoes, rice, beans, maize, crayfish, onions, pepper, smoked catfish, palm oil, etc.
African Harvesters: How is your business participating in the development of Food Security in Nigeria?
Nwaneri Olubukola: Food security is essential and that is why we took it upon ourselves to promote the consumption of our local food. Thereby giving our farmers a boost to grow more and enrich their standard of living. If we grow more, shortage and food insecurity will be a thing of the past and we will be self-sufficient. Eventually, exportation of Nigerian food will be next on the agenda.
African Harvesters: How has the Agribusiness entrepreneurial journey being?
Nwaneri Olubukola: The journey has being interesting and challenging, I must say. Interesting because there is so much to do that you can always find where to fit in the agribusiness in Nigeria especially in the value adding and processing. Challenging because agribusiness is a new phenomenon in Nigeria and people are still finding their feet in understanding the model and how it works different from the conventional farming and marketing of agriproducts. Also, we are yet to scratch the surface of value adding and processing of agricultural products.
African Harvesters: What are some of the challenges you face in your Agribusiness and how do you overcome those challenges?
Nwaneri Olubukola: A typical challenge we are facing is in the tomatoes value chain. Post-Harvest losses happen from the farm all the way to the kitchen. The cold chain system of preservation that could be applied is missing. We lose money when we truck tomatoes from the farms to the markets and to final consumers because we do not have a pre-cooling system in place close to the farms, there are no packing houses, sorting and grading are not done, refrigerated trucks are non-existent for long hauls, destination cold storage facilities are not available and handlers are missing Good Handling Practices (GHP).
We manage these challenges in our own way by improvising to cut down loss. We work with organizations like GEMS4, Pyxera Yieldwise, etc. who help to train farmers on GHP while we adopt the use of plastic crates for tomatoes movement. Also we try as much as possible to sell out on arrival due to lack of cold storage facilities.
African Harvesters: Where do you see your Agribusiness in 5 years from now and what steps are you taking today to reach that objective?
Nwaneri Olubukola: I believe the next five years would be great for agribusiness because several NGOs, government parastatals, input companies, logistics companies, business people, etc. are all waking up to the fact that agribusiness is here to stay and we are in the heart of the revolution working with all these organizations to combat obstacles. We are making more contacts and making in-roads into the heart and ears of people concerned. Also, we are working towards building the cold chain to work for our businesses.
African Harvesters: What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to start an Agribusiness or invest in Nigeria?
Nwaneri Olubukola: I would advise prospective entrepreneurs interested in the agribusiness not to rush into it. They should seek counsel, go for trainings, seminars and if possible partner with an existing agribusiness to learn the ropes of the business before they venture out on their own. And when they do, they should start small and grow gradually. For those looking to invest in Nigeria agribusiness, I would say the time is now. Agribusiness is the new oil business in Nigeria and with our population boom, we can never go wrong with agribusiness.