I am Onyemeka Regland Michael, the first son of Mr Onyemeka Longinus (building contractor) and Mrs Onyemeka Celine (a grocer). I am 27 years old. I hail from the Aggah-Egbema area of Rivers State, Nigeria and I reside in Lagos, Nigeria.
I have a degree in Botany from Lagos State University, Nigeria and several certificates on entrepreneurship management from Pan Atlantic University, Nigeria, and Youth empowerment and ICT from the Tony Elumelu Foundation. I am an Agripreneur with uncompromisin passion for self-reliance and creating job opportunities.
I have 5 years of farm management experience which I gained from my family farm and school projects. I bred tomatoes for varietal development and the findings were presented at the African Plant Breeding Academy (AfPBA) on December 3, 2013 at World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Nairobi Kenya by Dr S.C.O, Makinde.
I was among the inaugural 1000 African Entrepreneurs selected by the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program and the top 50 Innovative entrepreneurs in Nigeria selected by diamond bank.
My Youth Agripreneurs Project
My project is to make use of sustainable practices, techniques and best varieties/hybrids to produce high quality, long shelf-life fresh tomatoes all year round. Tomato constitutes 8% of the daily vegetable intake by Nigerians. The demand for tomato by the 170 million and growing Nigerian population is estimated at 2.3 million metric tons per year, while Nigeria produces only 1.701 million ton of tomato annually.
Nigeria spends over N11 billion (USD $55 million) annually on tomatoes and tomato paste importation, making it the 8th largest importer of tomato paste in the world despite being the second largest producer in Africa and fourteenth in the world.
This state of affairs is a result of a dysfunctional agricultural value chain system that culminates in about 50% of the nation’s local produce being lost during harvest. Therefore there is a need for better forms of storage. According to Manufacturing Today, trucks of tomato come into Nigerian markets from Ghana and Benin Republic daily to try to meet up with the demand.
Motivation and socio-economic impact in my community
Nigeria is a populous nation. Food is one of the basic necessities of man. Nothing is more important than food. A nation that does not feed itself becomes a threat to its own sovereign existence. This project will contribute to increased supply of tomato within my community thereby contributing to food security.
Also, agribusiness has proven itself in many nations to create more job opportunities than any other sector of the economy. This project will therefore create job opportunities for those in rural areas where our farms are located. The people we hire will become economically engaged, thereby shunning the illegal acts of hostage-taking, kidnapping, bombing, vandalism and homelessness in our country.
The project will be carried out on 5 acres of leased land equipped with irrigation. The expected duration is one year. Tomato takes between 90-120 days to mature. Therefore there will be two growing seasons during the project.
The procedure required involves:
Land preparation: The farmland is cleared and ploughed in using a tractor. Farmyard manure is then sprayed on the ploughed farmland and left for fifteen days before it is re-ploughed.
Nursery preparation: This is usually done at the same time as land preparation. The beds are prepared, watered and seeds are sown on the bed. The nursery is then shaded lightly to prevent burning. The seedlings are watered lightly for 15-20 days before being transplanted to the field.
Transplanting: This involves moving the seedlings from the nursery to the field, usually in the evening.
Fertilizer application: This is done two weeks after transplanting.
Pest management: These are controlled at two-week intervals pesticides depending on the associated pest.
Harvesting: Tomato is harvested 80-120 days after transplanting and packed in the shed.
What has been done so for the project?
The agribusiness has been registered as business name with the Cooperate Affairs Commission of Nigeria and Tax Identification Number has been given. I currently have 10 acres of farmland that has been leased for two years. There is also a rented farm house, a motorcycle for mobility, some farm tools, a water tank and drum, a mechanical sprayer and knapsack sprayer and network of farm workers in the rural area.
Measurable success factors
Success factors in this project include good planning, setting realistic project milestones and judicious utilization of project funds to execute the milestones. Success of the project will therefore be measured based on the achievement of individual milestones to meet the set targets and objectives of the project.
Budget Plan for the Project Activities Milestones
Using the Central bank of Nigeria current exchange rate (N196.5 to a dollar), the $5000 (N982,500) seed fund will be utilised to achieve the milestones set below:
- 5 acres of farmland will be leased with N50,000 ($254.45) in the first month of the project.
- The leased farmland will be prepared (double ploughing, ridging or bedding etc.) also in the first month using a hired tractor and operator with N100,000 ($508.9).
- A well will be dug as water source and pumping machine will be procured for the purpose of irrigation. This will also be achieved in the first month with N100,000 ($508.9).
- More farm tools and farm inputs (seeds, pesticides, organic and inorganic fertilizer etc.) will be sourced also in the first month using N120,010 ($610.74) to compliment what is on the ground.
- The nursery will be prepared immediately after the first ploughing within the first month with N20,000 ($101.78).
- Cost of labour for nursery, transplanting, irrigation, weeding, staking, harvesting etc., throughout the 120 days project duration is N157,500 ($801.53).
- Delivery of harvested crops to the market will be done immediately after harvest and it will take N175,000 ($890.59).
- Logistics and operational expenses (fuel, transportation etc.) throughout the project are N260,990 ($1328.19).
The estimated target yield from the 5 acres of farmland after 120 days is 1000 30 kg local baskets of tomatoes (approximately 30 tons), currently sold on average at N3000 ($15.27) per basket in Lagos Nigeria. Therefore, expected revenue at the end of first cultivation is N3,000,000 ($15267.17) which will be reinvested for sustainability purposes.
The project is indeed viable, profitable and sustainable. It is also eco-friendly as the debris get disintegrated to nourish the soil.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Onyemeka Michael(Lagos, Nigeria) – onyemekamichael[at]ymail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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