“If we must satisfy Africa’s food security with our growing population, then there must be high commercialisation of agriculture. That is modern farming,” said Ayotomiwa Yinka Ogunsua, who left a banking job to set up poultry.
When Ogunsua got a job as a loan officer at a Micro Finance Bank (MFB) in Ibadan, after graduating from university, he thought he had done well for himself. Then, he spotted an online advertisement for a youth agricultural training programme, and signed up owing to his interest in farming.
According to a testimonial of Ogunsua by the African Development Bank (AfDB), immediately he was selected for interview for a place in the poultry rearing course, Ogunsua quit his banking job. He said, “I knew I wanted to follow my passion for agriculture full-time.”
The 29-year-old Ogunsua won a place in the course which was organised in March, 2020, by the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and partners, including CGIAR – a global research partnership. TAAT works to harness high-impact agricultural technologies to boost crop output and create viable opportunities for workers and entrepreneurs. Soon after, Ogunsua bought 50 chicks and started a business.
The AfDB’s Director for Agriculture and Agro-Industry, Dr Martin Fregene, said TAAT had the resources, scientific and technological expertise, as well as proven implementation plans to benefit millions of African farmers like Ogunsua.
Dr Fregene further said, “As the continent’s leaders gather for the High-level Dialogue on Feeding Africa at the end of the month, Ogunsua’s experience serves as an inspiration for governments to commit to investing in Africa’s food systems.”
“After the training, I saw agriculture as a proper business, not just a passion,” Ogunsua said via telephone from his farm, as roosters crowed in the background. “I realised this is something I must make income from, as something to pay my bills – something that I can build on as an enterprise,” he added.
The CGIAR’s International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, South West Nigeria, provides TAAT training courses that offer capacity building and technical assistance to African “agripreneurs”.
The training, Ogunsua explained, gave him the technical know-how to expand his start-up, Vive Verde, from water, agricultural and environmental services into livestock production. Atops Farms, Ogunsua’s poultry business, grew to 500 birds by early 2021. Then something wonderful happened.
“We sold out birds for Easter,” Ogunsua said, noting that he makes more money from agribusiness than he did working as a loan officer.
As head of Atops Farms, Ogunsua does his part to advocate for Nigeria’s agriculture sector, appearing regularly on radio and television programmess, and working to change society’s perception of farming as a pastime.
“Farming, for one, is to make profit. It is also to ensure food security of the land, or the nation, or even the continent,” he recently told Inspiration 100.5 FM. “If we must satisfy Africa’s food security with our growing population, then there must be high commercialisation of agriculture: that is modern farming.”
Currently, he is expecting a shipment of chicks to restock, and while he waits for them to mature, he rears turkeys, rabbits and goats to generate more cash.
“I am still a small farmer, but by the grace of God I am growing and I will get there,” he said.