Ahmad Ghali Na’Abba is a young Nigeria entrepreneur from Kano State who is taking the bull by the horns in the renewable energy and organic fertiliser industry. With a Masters Degree in Accounting and Financial Management, Na’Abba, who is the MD/CEO of New Generation Biotechnology Global Limited Abuja, said he’s ready to push high-quality organic fertiliser into the Nigerian agric space. In this interview, he talks to Daily Trust on Sunday about the journey so far and what still lies ahead. Excerpts
At what point and how did the decision to invest in the production of organic fertilizer and renewable energy start?
I studied Economics and Finance in the university and for my masters, I studied Accounting and Financial Management. After the university, I did my NYSC at the Bank of Industries, where I had some more experience in investing and building up industries in general. I was lucky to have a supervisor who cared enough to give me some work to do because a lot of institutions here don’t really nurture the NYSC personnel they have, so I was lucky in that regard.
At that time, of course as a young person, there were a lot of things going through my mind after the NYSC. It’s very difficult to be retained, but sometimes when you don’t get retained, it’s also an opportunity for you to think outside the box and see what you can do outside of what you’re comfortable with.
Luckily, I had few friends who also had passion for entrepreneurship. Initially, what we wanted to do was to go into recycling but if you research and take it seriously, you learn about other things and that’s how we came across someone who also had the same zeal as us, he was looking into the same thing that we’re looking into, he had experience in them too and somehow, we expanded. We were going to do recycling and we’re going to do biogas because biogas is a type of renewable energy in itself so the interesting thing is that we even kept the recycling thing aside.
Now, it’s the renewable energy that we’re into and it just happen that the by-product of biogas is organic liquid fertilizer. We all know the issues going on in the country, especially with economic inflation, and I think this is the perfect time for our products to come in because we’re coming with a solution for the high prices the farmers, dealers and everyone is dealing with. This makes life a bit easier for Nigerians, especially those in that sector, and then in general, it adds value to the Nigeria economy as well. So far, we’re very happy with the progress we’ve been able to make.
Tell us more about the organic fertiliser you recently introduced into the Nigerian farming community
The good thing about organic fertilizer is that unlike the NPK and urea, ours in particular has no preservatives added to it. It’s fully organic. There’s no chemical added and it has all the nutrients required in organic form, so we don’t really need to add anything to it but even if they prefer it that way, it’s not a problem because we could adjust to their liking. The fact that ours is organic just means that it can work anywhere and can work on anything and yield very good produce at the end of the day, so this is the very good thing about our own fertiliser.
The quality is very high; the PH is very high sometimes it goes over seven. We’re happy with the way it came out. We have different form of the fertilisers; we have liquid fertilizer, solid fertilizer, organic fertilizer and we even come up with new type of fertilizer – it’s powder so in this rainy season you just take it on your hand and spray it on your crops. It makes it a lot easier for farmers.
How long have you been in this market?
Seven months actually.
Since this is essentially a new product, has any farmer tested it? If so, what is their impression of it?
Of course, like every business has its ups and downs, the first yield we had using the fertilizer, we tested it ourselves and it worked perfectly for us, but at that time, we weren’t very familiar with the product so we didn’t know what weakens the product and what made it stronger. Because what we were doing was biogas initially, when we packaged the fertilizers, there was a risk of implosion so we opened it to flare the gas out and then when the nitrogen goes out, it escaped with the active ingredients. That was what actually prompted us to try and find an alternative type of fertilizer. When temperature rises, the implosion happens so we came up with the solid one and the powdered one and now, we have understood how to even make the liquid one without the risk of implosion. It is not a problem anymore.
Initially, when we gave that out to the farmers, the feedback we got was not very encouraging, so we used that feedback and went back to the lab made another one, improved on it, sent it to them and they loved it. They said they really want to come and buy in bulk from us because they really enjoyed using it. Right now, farmers are sending request for what we have because the result is great.
You mentioned having three products of this organic fertiliser, what are the sizes?
The liquid fertilizer is in different litres for both smallholder and commercial farmers including a customized order. For the solid fertilizer, it’s in 50kg bags and we have 25kg bag as well.
Is it applicable to all crops?
Yes, it can go for all types of crops.
How much can you produce in a week or month based on your factory’s capacity?
When we started, we started with the 2 cubic metre plant and then early this year, we expanded to 7 cubic metre plant and we have another 1,000-litre reservoir, making it 8,000 metres. Each month, we have two cycles of production but in the next few months, we’re going to have more than two cycles of production by God’s grace. So, in those two cycles of production, we’re able to produce 14 to 16 thousand litres of fertilizer or 14 to 16 thousand kilograms of the solid fertiliser.
The inflation rate in the country has made fertilizer extremely expensive for small holder farmers. How affordable is this going to be for Nigeria farmers?
It’s going to be very affordable because we’re going into production with the mind set of making life easier for Nigerians to begin with, so we look at what is in the market and how we can raise the quality first and also create supply chain so that people can be employed in order to take off the pressure of unemployment on state governments. Eventually, we will divert to other states; creating distribution networks and giving people contracts to bring us raw materials and stuff, so it’s a very large scale organization that we’re trying to operate here and as far as the pricing goes, it’s cheaper than what comes into the country.
So, what’s your plan for sustainability in terms of raw materials?
If it operates on the scale that we want to operate, we will need at least 50 to 100 tons of organic waste at least every three days. It’s a continuous process and we have to keep feeding the reactors and that’s why we’re going to have more than two cycles in a month. So, this is an opportunity for us to give people contracts to source raw materials for us.