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Africa Business News of Friday, 21 January 2022


Meet the young Nigerian pushing the boundaries of agribusiness in Africa

Livestock farmer, Chukwu Emeka Mordzie Livestock farmer, Chukwu Emeka Mordzie

Entrepreneurship on the continent has evolved over the years. Annually, there is a surge of young entrepreneurs who venture into different industries in Nigeria and in the Diaspora.

A recent 2021 report produced by The Fate Institute on the “State of Entrepreneurship” revealed that 67 percent of entrepreneurs in the country are youths who fall within 18 and 35 years respectively.

The report said: “Most businesses set up by entrepreneurs have been successful, with 66 percent of respondents affirming that the businesses they have set up have been successful as against 34 percent that said their businesses failed.”

In agribusiness, the story is the same. Young people who engage in agribusiness in developing countries like Nigeria face several challenges.

Aside from the lack of land, credit, farm inputs, agronomic and vocational training, insurance and lucrative markets, these young entrepreneurs lack adequate access to important resources and opportunities.

These challenges were corroborated by 34-year-old livestock farmer, Chukwu Emeka Mordzie, who is currently based in Ghana’s Eastern Regional capital, Koforidua.
According to him, losing more than 200 pigs to natural causes hasn't stopped him from pursuing his dream of exporting farm produce outside the continent.

Follow the interview Chukwu Emeka Mordzie granted MyNigeria from his base in Ghana below.

Tell us more about yourself

I am Chukwu Emeka Mordzie, a livestock farmer with a bias for piggery. I have a BSc in Finance and Banking from UPSA [University of Professional Studies, Accra in Ghana]. I am 34 years old with my farm located at Apawu in the Eastern Region of Ghana.

What does your Agribusiness incubator do?

The name of my agribusiness incubator in Africa Farm Village. Our mission is to create employment among women, youth, and graduates by promoting the use of agrotech in livestock farming. We organize capacity building, mentorship, and advisory service for farmers and aspiring farmers.

So, for instance, on October 20, 2021, we organized training for farmers themed: “The business side of agriculture.” Also, on November 11, 2021, we also organized training for farmers themed “The use of Hydroponic feed fodder to cut down feed cost by 50%.”

We also teach existing farmers how to use Agric technologies to make farming easier for them and to cut down on their cost of production.

What was the motivation for starting this particular project?

The motivation for starting this project was that I felt the knowledge I had accumulated from institutions like Egerton University, AU-IBAR, Feed the future, CCLEAr agribusiness incubator, GIZ etc will go to waste if I don’t implement it.
The knowledge was acquired to be imparted to the people around so their lives are improved.

Secondly, I know that a lot of people want to do agribusiness but they don't know how to begin it, so this incubator was born to help.
Thirdly, I want to tell the world that agriculture is very lucrative when done the smart way, it’s not a profession for poor and uneducated people as we perceive.

When did you start this business?

It was very tough when I started from Peduase [in Eastern Region of Ghana]. I started with 22 pigs which grew to a 100 then I fell sick then all the animals died. We (me and my brother) decided and we bought a land closer to Koforidua and moved there and started with another two pigs.

These two pigs were given to me by a doctor friend who is also a farmer at Kpando Hospital [in Volta Region of Ghana]. He gave me the pigs because he came for training and I didn't charge him so when I told him about what had happened to me, he decided to give me two pigs to start with.

We grew the two pigs to 257 then last February our farm was attacked by African swine fever and we lost all the 257 pigs. It was tough but we had to start again and in July last year we did. But before then, we fumigated the farm. By the end of March last year, all the animals died again. This time, after fumigating, we tested to confirm that the virus had left.

We never gave up, we started again in July and now we have over 200 pigs. Yes, we are growing.

We have 4.5 acres of land that we currently use in farming crops including plantain and cassava.

We are growing and we will grow more. When we came here there was no light, no roads but now we have constructed a road. We have brought lights and we have mechanized our farm. Now we don't use the local framing system where we fetch water for the pigs. Now we use the nip holes and a hand dug well.
Our next plan will be to construct a farmhouse.

By the end of this year, we want to increase our stock to 500 but the agenda is to get to 2000 pigs by 2025.

What is your major success story?

Well, I received an award as the best pig farmer in 2015 in the Akwapem South District when I was based there. I was also awarded the best pig farmer in the Akwapem North Municipality in 2021 when I moved there. A lot of farmers were on the verge of selling their pigs and quitting but decided to stay after the training I offered them.

Tell us about your products?

I rear pigs, my meat has zero fat because I use herbs like moringa, leucaena, cassava leaves to shrink the fat away. I currently have 200 pigs. It will interest you to note that I grow my own corn to feed my animals.
I also rear local chicken in commercial quantities, I currently have 200 of them. I intend to start fish farming at the end of January.

What have been the challenges so far for you?

The major challenges have been finances and labour. The authorities don’t make it easy as well. Because I am seen as an outsider, I am frustrated a lot. The young ones don’t like to work because they see the job to be filthy. But in all, lack of access to finance has been my biggest challenge.

Has the business been profitable so far?

Yes, the business is a profitable business, if you do the needful. I feed my pigs on time, medication is done on time etc. so I make my profit quickly. For the fish and poultry farm, I am yet to start. I also farm plantain, cocoyam and cassava which is also very lucrative.

What are your future plans?

So, talking about the future plans, we want to grow this farm; the moment we exceed 800 pigs we will go into processing, that's what we want to do but I'm sure that by the end of the year, Jehovah willing, we should have more than 1,000 pigs. Which means we will be processing them for export.

Then to our agribusiness incubator, our agenda basically is to train our people, build their capacity, sort for funding and then support these young graduates, young women who aspire to become farmers.

We want to support them to start their own business, to become their own boss, to run their own business so we can reduce unemployment going forward within our community.

We want to use agric-tech to make agriculture a very attractive venture for young people.

This article was written by Novieku Babatunde Adeola