Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

Hundreds of young people drawn from Makurdi, Otukpo and Gboko in Benue State have been trained on Agribusiness opportunities, Funding opportunities, marketing of produce, bookkeeping/profitability, managing risk through Agric insurance and efficient farming techniques. 

The objective of the 2019 Agribusiness Incubation Program workshop which was organised by Royaldream Builders Initiative (RBI), according to its Project Director, Dr. John Ona, was to train young aspiring and practicing farmers in Otukpo, Gboko and Makurdi on how to manage their farm businesses to be able to achieve optimum profitability.

Speakers at the workshops include an Abuja based young farmer Mr. Owi Ochoche who spoke on his experience running a successful snail/pig farm with a capacity of two million snails and over 300 exotic pigs. 

Ochoche who spoke extensively on the need to put process structures in place for successfully running agribusinesses also highlighted the huge opportunities that abound across Nigeria for agri-entrepreneurs with the massive importation of food into Nigeria to meet its food needs. 

He harped on the need for entrepreneurs to be focused and not necessarily rely on timelines or boundaries as agric business is a learning curve. 

Also speaking, a Jos based poultry farmer, Solomon Okopi shared his experience on how he is managing a 35,000 capacity poultry farm even as Dr Chris Eche from the University of Agriculture and Samson Ayegba of Value Seeds Ltd spoke on Precision Agriculture with respect to efficient crop farming techniques. 

In her contribution, Mrs Nguseer Torbunde spoke on funding opportunities and how participants can prepare to meet numerous opportunities like the CBN’s Achor Borrowers Scheme, Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program, YouWin amongst others.

On her part, Ms Ene Adaji spoke on Why small businesses fail: planning, passion, strategy and vision. Mr Donald Omenka spoke on recordkeeping and profitability. 

The Benue State Branch Manager of the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation enlightened young farmers on how they can insure their animals and crops against risks such as flood, diseases and other natural disasters. 

He dispelled impressions that insurance companies don’t pay when losses are reported even as he advised that farmers should report on time to enable insurance companies verify and process their insurance claims.

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The Project Director of Royaldream Builders Initiative, Dr Ona expressed gratitude to the United States Government through the Public Diplomacy Grant of the US Embassy Abuja for renewing the grant for a second year after a successful year. 

He stated that the program had trained over 700 young people in 2017/2018 and it is expected to train at least 1000 young people in 2019. 

He further stated that after these workshops, between 50 and 100 youths will be selected for additional training, revealing that the selected trainees would undergo farm internships after they are matched with mentors.

Ona explained further that the trainees are expected to undergo a comprehensive entrepreneurial training on Dreambuilder; a business development software developed by the Arizona State University Thunderbird School of Global Management. 

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“The selected youths will also be expected to facilitate the formation of at least 20 Agric hubs or farmer groups that will be supported by the RBI Agribusiness Incubation Program. 

“These farmer groups will then be supported with further business training and best agric practices training in other to reduce the failure rates of young people in Agriculture. Many of these young people will be able to access finance after the training to grow their businesses. 

“We hope that this program would have trained at least 300-400 young people organized in farmer groups or Agric hubs across different value chains to enable them network and access support in markets, inputs and finance.

Some beneficiaries from the 2018 Agribusiness Incubation program who gave testimonies including Onaa Clement, Mimi Dzever and Kelvin Sokpo shared their experiences on how the program has helped them to improve on their farm business.

In attendance at the workshop were officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Development Finance Office who were present to enlighten trainees on funding opportunities available for young people.