Mrs Asonye started with about 2000 fishes and N800,000 capital, and now has 120,000 fingerlings of fishes.
In 2004, Chinasa Asonye was an accountant in Lagos with an oil servicing firm. At that time she was married with four children.
Like regular Lagos residents, she woke up very early to prepare for the day and retired as late as 11 p.m.
For Ms Asonye and her family, this was a regular routine except on Sundays.
The mother-of-four had dreams of working in larger firms because she was career-oriented.
Married to a soldier, her husband was always on transfer to different states so she needed to find an alternative job that gives her more time with the children.
On a Saturday morning in 2004, Ms Asonye as usual dressed up and left the house for work. About two hours after she arrived at her office, her husband showed up and demanded the management relieve her immediately.
He made this demand because he needed his wife to stay home and take care of the children. The management agreed and then requested her resignation.
“I understood with my husband and honoured his request thereby tendering my resignation,” Mrs Asonye said.
With a sad face, she went to her friend who introduced her to fish farming where she started learning about it.
Seventeen years later, Ms Asonye is grateful she resigned as an accountant. She is the chief executive officer of Chielo Farms, Lagos.
She started with about 2000 fishes and N800,000 capital.
Aside from her fish farm, she owns a poultry farm and also cultivates rice, cassava, vegetables and she processes rice.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, she was exporting fishes to the United States of America.
She has 120,000 fingerlings of fishes.
In 2014, She won an award as the food hero of the year in Lagos State.
As an award-winning farmer in the state, she was called “Ogbonge Woman”.
After this award, she began the Ogbonge Women Association in collaboration with the state government.
She was among the pioneer beneficiaries of the ‘rice for job’ in the state. Out of 30 farmers, only eight had the perseverance to stay till the end.
Ms Asonye was the only woman standing among the eight farmers. After the empowerment from the state government, she began her rice farm on five hectares of land in Ijebu.
After her first harvest, she was discouraged so had to reduce her farm size to three hectares.
Currently, she belongs to different associations like Lagos State Catfish Association, Smallholder Women Farmers Association of Nigeria, and Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria.
Unable to get the inorganic fertilizer, she resorted to organic fertilizers. For her crop farm, she uses husks from her rice and the droppings from poultry.
While on her poultry farm, she uses allium (ginger, gallic, and tumeric).
Ms Asonye cannot access loans from NIRSAL due to the demanding protocols.
“I have been applying for loans from the bank but nothing is forthcoming. Where I applied for a loan through NIRSAL has not given me anything saying that CBN held it, protocols and other delays,” she said.
“This actually made the business not to be so fruitful, but the only thing that kept us going is our association that we found together to save money and give loans and at the year’s end we share the money with the interests.
“For cassava, I already have a steady market. There’s a woman who comes to buy off the whole plot as she knows what she wants and she comes every year to buy off the cassava.
“For the rice processing, I’m still trying to see how to push my rice into other places. It’s not easy as the borders are now open but when it was closed I could sell but now selling is a bit difficult for people.
“Lagos State extension service has been of huge assistance to me, we have their phone numbers around and I’ve worked hand-in-hand with them when I was the female hero of the year.
“I have been empowered through the commercial agricultural development project by giving me my rice processing machine where I can dehusk, mill, and also polish my rice.
“And I’ve also been empowered through packaging. I was given good bags, a sealing machine, and all that and all this was empowerment by Lagos State.
” And through FIRO I have an oven that smokes about 50 to 60kg of fish. The Lagos State government empowered their farmers two to three times in a year.”