Oluwaseyi Adewale Famuyiwa is a final year student of Department of English, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State. He is one of the ‘weird’ young entrepreneurs in the country. Oluwaseyi, 23, is passionate about farming and is already making waves in the agricultural sector. He intends to solve the problem of hunger by making food available for the poor at a subsidized rate. In this interview with THE ECHO, the native of Ago-Are in Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State tells us about his background and motivation, his efforts so far in establishing his farms and the big dreams that keep him going. Excerpts…
Congratulations on your final year exams at Obafemi Awolowo University. We hope you now enjoy the feeling of being ‘free’ from assignments and early morning classes.
Yes sir, very right.
You are studying English and then you develop an interest in farming. How are they related, sir?
They are not related in any way but where passion drives you to, there is surely a way there.
So what really motivated you into farming when you could have decided to work with any media house or big industries and make your cool cash instead of farming after four years of rigorous studies?
Well, agriculture is about food and food is a necessity for us as humans and you will agree with me that Nigeria has lost its place in the agricultural industry. There was a time we were the leading force in food production but now, there are people who cannot fend for themselves; who cannot afford a meal per day due to poverty and even due to the scarcity of food. So, I guess contributing my own quota will be awesome. And I just have the passion for farming.
Is it about the money this societal gap will bring or about the impact?
It’s more of impact. We didn’t start with the notion of exploitation and extortion. We started with the view that the haves-not can enjoy our produce.
Are you saying you are farming just for the purpose of feeding the less privileged in the society?
Well, simply put, I’m farming to make Nigeria a hunger-free nation.
So, farming to make Nigeria a better place, how many acres or hectares of farmlands do you have at present?
I currently have 30 acres of farmland in Ago-Are in Oyo state.
30 acres? But sir that cannot really cater for the haves-not in Nigeria, how do you intend to do that? What’s the future of the farm?
Well, you will agree with me that there was a time Dangote wasn’t as rich as he is now and even Senator Murray Ben Bruce said recently that Dangote was only the richest man in Apapa and not in Nigeria, let alone in Africa when he met him some years ago. So, we are starting small but I believe that we will end up big. It’s just a matter of time. This is just the beginning for us too.
Market forces are unpredictable in the country and now that armed herders are troubling farmers, how are you planning to tackle the challenge or are you not afraid that after laboring, some Fulani herdsmen will destroy everything you have worked for?
I believe that a man that cannot take risk has already lost the battle before it started. Business is all about taking risks, but professionally. So, fear is not the issue. Every challenge has a solution. Well, for now, all we can do is seek some pieces of advice from experts; people that have been in the system before us. We are also going to insure the farm. We will register the farm as a company before the end of this year and after that, we will insure it. Also, our doors are open for investors. Those who believe in our goals can invest their funds on our farm and I can assure you that after ten months, they will begin to reap the returns of their investments.
So, who is your mentor in this area? Or is it that you just believe in yourself, in the system without anybody motivating you?
I got my first motivation from a friend called Babawale. I was motivated by his hunger for success. We started a business together with Sayo back then in 2012 after graduating from high school, though it has crashed now. But we learnt deserving lessons to push on in future. I mean worthy lesson worth more than the resources invested in it. In 2016, Ben Thomas, a roommate of mine gave me a book titled “Live Your Dream” by Leslie Brown. That book has awoken the sleeping lion in me. Currently, I listen more to Leslie Brown, John Rohn, Eric Thomas, Zig Ziglar and Denzel Washington more than I listen to any other person. And I’m also closely following Dr. Femi Adeshina of Africa Development Bank of Agriculture. He has done a lot. I look forward to doing more than he has done.
Is it just cassava and some cereals that you want to produce or are you thinking of cash crops also?
I believe that cash crop is the technology of agriculture and our world is a world of technology. So, it is a yes to cash crops. We will also venture into animal rearing. There is also a part of us that strongly believe in industrialization. So, some of our produce can be used in manufacturing some end products. Work is currently ongoing on Tapioka, a local cereal like custard but with lots of health benefits.
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Where have been your sources of funding the business? Is it the government, grants or self?
August 2017, that was when everything fully kicked-started. I got myself a part-time teaching job with a monthly salary of 10,000 naira and every salary I got had been used on the farm. Also, I’ve taken the pain on myself to use my monthly stipends from home on the farm which means that my daddy is also involved. But recently, I applied for Ooni of Ife’s annual Southwest Empowerment Programme for final year students and I have also applied for Tony Elumelu Foundation grant. Winning them will greatly bolster the prospects of the farm. The farm actually started with N52,000 last year and is currently worth over a million naira.
Apart from yourself and the family source mentioned, no one else has contributed in any capacity?
Well, my uncle has been playing a supervisory role since I’m still in school. And commendably, he does not receive a penny for that. He has contributed a lot to it; his energy and time. He’s the manager.
Imagine winning a $2 million grant, what would you do with it on the farm?
We will kick-start mechanized farming. Buy more farmlands, do agricultural research, employ more hands, start animal rearing, venture into other farm produce, plant cash crops of about 100 acres. Generally, it will be for farm expansion. Having a rice plantation in the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo state will help reduce the illegal exportation of rice to the area since it will be relatively cheaper and be of standard. We will also do a sort of empowerment scheme for ambitious youths.
How does the English you studied for four years come into play?
Well, the part-time job I got has been sponsoring the farm, and I got it to teach English. So, I guess it has not been a waste after all and I believe the knowledge will still be needed in years to come.
So, you are going fully into agriculture without looking back?
Sir, can you share a word with those that want to do the same thing as you but are afraid to start?
First, I will recommend “Live Your Dream” by Leslie Brown to them. And please never doubt yourself. There’s a lion in you, sleeping, wake it up. Let your dream be bigger than your ego. Pastor W.F. Kumuyi once said “if you can imagine it, you can have it”, so dream and go for it. And always remember that if you don’t, someone else who is not you will. So, they should get into their stride.
Thank you for your time.
You’re most welcome.
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