In our previous post, startupnigeria shared with you the story of Michael Samuel Ayang the young poultry farmer based in Apiapum, Obubra Local Government Area of Cross Rivers State, who is on a mission of creating sustainable development via agriculture in his local community. In this post, we will be visiting another young individual who plans to toe the same line with big dreams of taking agriculture to the next level in Cross Rivers State.
So here we are on our way to Yala in Ikom Local Government Area which is approximately 44km away from Obubra and 23km away from Cameroun. The people of Ikom are predominantly cocoa farmers, ranking as one of the highest producers of top quality cocoa in the country. A few of them are also running banana and plantain plantations. Interestingly enough, when startupnigeria asked to be taken to the closest cocoa processing plants in the area, we were told there were none, leaving us to focus on our primary purpose of visiting the area.
Enter Akan Patrick Oyong,owner of Rose Diamond Farm Ikom. In this interview, Patrick takes us through his background, his agro-based venture and his dreams for a purely agro-sustainable Nigeria. Below are the interview excerpts;
Startupnigeria: Hello Patrick, thanks for having us here
Patrick: It is a pleasure to have you here with me, coming all the way from Calabar to visit my farm despite the bad roads and the rain.
Startupnigeria: It was worth it. Do you mind giving us a tour of your farm?
Patrick: Why not (Immediately, I whip out my camera and snap away)
In the next 30 minutes Patrick proceeds to give us a grand tour of his farm where he currently houses 1000 layers and about 50 broilers. He proudly shows us the expanse of land he got just for the purpose. He seemed to be particularly happy about the stream running through his property somewhere towards the back and seeing how interior the area was, it was perfectly understandable.
While taking us round his farm, Patrick gave us a brief insight into his background, and academic qualifications. He had this to say
“I was born into an agrarian family, so agriculture is not new to me, i grew up with it. However, coming from the type of family I was born into, I already knew the hidden benefits of agriculture, I knew there was more I could do to modernise things so I decided to study agronomy while I was in the University.”
We also asked him what motivated him to set out on his own instead of working with an already established farm; he says:
“The introduction of Songhai to Cross River state by the previous governor Liyel Omoke was a turning point in my life as I was one of the beneficiaries of the Songhai Cross River Initiative (SCRI). A partnership between the Cross River State Government and Songhai farms in Porto Novo, Benin Republic. I was one of the few young people sent for training there and it was indeed an eye opener for me. My mind was open to a whole world of new possibilities. That was I came back home and established something for myself”.
Startupnigeria: Do you mind if I ask how where you able to get the financial resources you required for your project?
Patrick: Not a problem at all. My family has been very supportive, I had put in a little cash of my own but the main breakthrough came when I applied for the Federal Government sponsored YOUWIN project. That was what helped me purchase the land you see now and i commenced operations immediately. However, there are still some major challenges ahead of me because the production level now cannot support the running of the farm, so I find myself dipping my hands into my pocket for sustenance. I have four people who work for me full time plus a part time vertinary doctor who comes all the way from Calabar to check on my birds. I have to pay all these people and so far it has not been easy.
To support my vision for this farm, i have to engage one or two other people with the requisite knowledge of agricultural processes so that they can be able to take over if I have to be somewhere else, that way i can also expand faster because we would now be talking shared knowledge.
Startupnigeria: I heard you talk about your ‘vision’ for the farm. Would you mind sharing that with our readers?
Patrick: In the nearest future I hope to be one of the key players in the agricultural sector, employing at least 300 people. They would be involved in various capacities like ranching, the grass cutter unity which i plan to start soon, fisheries, expansion of the poultry. We are looking at a fully integrated process which involves nation-wide deliveries, processing and packaging.
Startupnigeria: Any last words for the youths out there?
Patrick: Agriculture is more than just going to the farm and getting dirty. This a whole sector of the economy that is more than capable of making us self sufficient. Don’t look down on it because it can single handedly change a person’s destiny. Look beyond the white collar jobs and see what you can do to help yourself while creating a source of livelihood for others who are not necessarily ready to go into entrepreneurship.