A New League Of Proxy Farmers In Nigeria: Juwon Gbolade a 45 years old farmer in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, grows rice, soybeans and maize on 20 hectares of land yet he has never been to a farm.
Gbolade has no practical knowledge about farming and does not understand the fundamentals of agriculture yet he harvest tons of crops yearly and makes over N500, 000 from farming each year.
This is as a result of the investments Gbolade made in the agricultural sector through a digital platform which connects farm sponsors with real farmers.
“I am a farmer but have never visited any farmland and lack the practical knowledge,” Gbolade said with excitement in his voice.
“I make returns between 6 to 25 percent and within a 3-9 months period, depending on what farm type I choose,” he added with a big smile on his face.
Not only is the business very profitable but also helping Nigeria meets its funding needs to boost food production and ensure food security.
Ahmed Yakubu, an engineer with a top engineering firm in the country is also a farmer by proxy.
“I have been into farming since 2016 and the journey has been exciting and rewarding. I have a 10 tons rice farm in Kebbi and I have never been to Kebbi state before,” Yakubu told BusinessDay.
“I could have these farms through my investments in Thrive Agric- a company that connects sponsors to farmers. The returns have been excellent,” he added.
Just like Gbolade and Yakubu are leveraging on the farming opportunities the likes of Growsel, Thrive Agric, and Farmcrowdy are providing to create wealth and improve their income.
The likes of Farmcrowdy, Thrive Agric and Growsel are organisations behind the initiative which is reshaping the way people participate in farming and food production using their online platform to invest.
The organisations function through their various platforms and trains farmers in smart farming techniques as well as supplying them with inputs and technical support to boost their output.
The opportunity has allowed many Nigerians who do not want to be involved in the drudgery of farming own a farm and venture into agribusiness.
“Farmcrowdy has recorded close to 1,000 unique farm sponsors, aggregated a combined 4,000 acres of farmland in Nigeria for farming purpose and grown over 150,000 organic chickens to date,” Onyeka Akumah, co-founder and CEO, Farmcrowdy said recently during the firm’s first annual anniversary in Lagos.
How finance can help smallholder farmers improve yield
Over the years, lack of finance has remained one of the major factors bedeviling the country’s agricultural sector and this impediment has continued to prevent farmers from investing in basic inputs, such as quality seeds, fertilizers and small-scale irrigation facilities among others needed to raise productivity and generate sustainable income.
But all that is fast changing owing to the new league of proxy farmers in the country.
“Despite contributing about 30percent to Nigeria’s GDP and 70percent to the country’s labour force, most farmers in Nigeria are still entangle in poverty, a problem that basically stems from a lack of funds to access modern farm inputs, which in turn drastically reduces their output,” Jerry Oche, CEO, Growsel said in a statement.
“To change this for farmers and ensure they have the required finance to expand their production areas and boost productivity, we create a meeting point for farmers and farm sponsors who are willing to invest,” Oche said.
According to experts, such financing models to farmers will increase private capital investment in the country’s primary agriculture and integrate poorer sections of the population into a sustainable process of economic growth and development.
In turn, this will reduce poverty by providing jobs directly and indirectly that will serve as a stimulus to the Nigerian economy and agricultural sector.