Nigerian entrepneurs have incredible potential to make agro business a sector that fills a growing market niche and engages the youth. Olisaeloka Peter Okocha and Samson Ogbole are prime examples. Their determination and love of agro innovations have led them to become rising stars selling technologies that can change lives of food processors. The two young entrepreneurs have established, PS Nutrac , a food technology business, to push an initiative that enables Nigerians produce more than 1000 yams within a small space for exports known as aeroponics.
The technology enables farmers to plant yam in the air without the use of soil. The other advantage is that one can multipy,clean seed yam tubers in large quantities. They demonstrated the technology at Guiding Light Assembly, Parkview Estate ,Lagos.
As part of an effort to improve the production of high quality yam seeds, Okocha said the company introduced aeroponics system ,the process of growing plants in air or mist-environment without the use of soil or an aggregate medium to help more Nigeria making money from growing food using simple technology with their homes, plots and few acres of land.
He said his ultimate objective is to help entrepreneurs acquire simple technologies to produce food within their homes, reduce post harvest losses, create jobs, increase smallholder incomes, food safety and nutrition while contributing to the Gross Domestic Product( GDP) through export earnings.
Okocha and his partner, Ogbole share a common goal in enabling entrepreneurs to grow their business and get connected to the market. Ogbole is a critical part of the vision to using aeroponics to boost agro entrepreneurs to start their food production businesses.
Besides, observed the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan Oyo State under YamImprovement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA) project.
During his service, he worked in tissue culture laboratory and aeroponics system. After his service year, he was made a research supervisor as he took charge of the aeroponics system.
He further established the system in Biocrops Centre, Abuja and National Root Crops Research Institute(NRCRI), Umudike, Abia State. He also trained both private and public institute staff for aeroponics technology.
It is to his credit that the process increased seed yam systems and developed best nutrient composition for seed yam production.
Speaking on investment opportunity, Ogbole said with N250,000 investment in yam production using aeroponics, one can make N1,200,000 annually.
The PS Nutrac boss revelaed that soilless yam propagation system increase the productivity of seed and reduce diseases.
According to him: “ People don’t plant yams with the vines, so we realised that we can do that and actually increase the multiplication ratio and now what we are doing is aeroponics. One plant can yield about 1,000 seeds’’, he added
Ogbole said a wide range of products centred on yam ‘are going to open up new markets for entrepreneurs.
With the technology, he said it will be possible for individuals and businesses to produce thousands of yams within a small place.
He said : “You can start with a 20 liters paint bucket and a small pump. Fertilizer can be organic or inorganic, and even when inorganic; you will need a 25kilo gramm bag to feed 2000 plants for five years before it is exhausted.”
He said there are opportunities for entrepreneurs to explore yam production for income. According to him, his organisation aims to train people on how to build and maintain systems where plants can be grown in the air. This means that everything from lettuce and tomatoes can be grown without soil and this can even be done indoors.
General Overseer, Guiding Light Assembly, Pastor Wale Adefarasin, said his church supports every initiative to promote job creation and youth entrepreneurship.
Source: The Nation