When I ventured full time into Agriculture in December 2020, I thought I knew it all. I had done all the research, taken all the courses and even completed an internship ON AN ACTUAL FARM! I knew what I was going into, and I knew that there was no way I would fail. (Check out the business Instagram and Twitter )
Boy did I learn my lesson!
Still, while my learning and research did not give me the full story, it helped some. And in my short time as a hydroponic (soilless) farmer, I know enough to answer some of the questions I’ve been getting.
I wish I had the sense to ask these questions when I was starting out, and I hope my answers will give you some of the clarity you need to learn more and maybe the courage to start your own business.
Question 1: What Should I Grow?
Technically, you can grow (or raise if you’re into animal farming) whatever you want. There is no “hot product” in such high demand that it’ll make you a millionaire overnight or in one growth cycle. This is a myth.
There is only a hot product for a specific market. If the market doesn’t want it, then don’t grow (or raise) it. You’ll be setting yourself for a huge—and painful—loss. The kind that some people never recover from.
Food will always be in demand, but the source of demand should be your focus, not even the product they are demanding for. When you have this information, you can produce what the market wants, or something even better that they didn’t know they need.
KNOW YOUR MARKET!
Question 2: How Do I Get Into “Agriculture”?
My Yoruba people say, “Ònà kan ò w’ọjà”, many roads lead to the market.
Agriculture/Agribusiness/Agric business is a vast industry that spreads across several industries. The entry points into the industry are endless.
My advice is: start from where you are. If you think about it, you’ll find that whatever it is you do for a living right now can be useful in the Agriculture industry; technology, law, construction, photography, fashion… literally anything!
Start from where you are in your life’s journey. Learn how you can apply your current skills to the greater good of agriculture in Nigeria, Africa and see where it takes you.
Remember, there is no competition in business, there is only collaboration.
Question 3: How Do I Set Up a Farm? (Greenhouse)
Set it up however you want.
Not the answer you were expecting? It is the only answer I can give.
In Nigeria, we are so blessed; we are cursed.
What I mean is, we have so much natural and man-made freedom in our agricultural practices that it is very easy to mess it up by taking the wrong (uninformed) steps.
The type of farm you choose to build is largely determined by two factors: the market demand (quantity and quality) and the required input for optimal yield. I would add funds, but I’m sure you know enough to cut your cloth according to your size.
First, do your research; test things out; invent new stuff. The farm land is your oyster (don’t eat your product if you’re an oyster farmer!). You may build a greenhouse, screenhouse or nethouse. The choice is yours.
I’m partial to hydroponics because I can do a lot even in the smallest of spaces. What makes the difference is how much you’re willing to commit to it in terms of technology and your desired output.
Now that I’ve answered the common questions I get, I have to throw in a last word (so you’re not discouraged by the strong responses).
“Agriculture is Business, an Industry, and you must treat it as such.”
Just like finance, IT, Real Estate, etc…
Agriculture is an industry, and if you decide to venture into it, you must treat your farm as the structured organisation that it is.
That means you’ll; do your research (create a plan with goals, milestones and systems in place) monitor trends; develop systems and processes. The whole enchilada.
While most people in Nigeria like to assume that farming the easiest thing to do and treat it like a side hustle (which usually leads to big losses on their part), I advise against it.
Instead of waiting until you have all the time in the world, you can ease into it by investing. There are several businesses within the sector that are doing well and are looking for opportunities to scale up. Be sure to do your due diligence though!
I’ve said shared my knowledge. And if you don’t believe me, you MUST believe this industry legend. It is a long watch, but it will help you in more than I can.