Retson Tedheke, the ex-militant who became an agriculture entrepreneur has said that the worth of his farm business in Ga’ate, Nasarawa state is more than N1 billion, encouraging more Nigerians to invest in the sector.
Mr Tedheke said he was surprised that many Nigerians find it difficult to believe that his 3,500 hectares farm business could be worth N1 billion after two years. He explained that he began the business through crowdfunding but has gone to source for funds through other mediums.
He said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was being modest when he said his business was worth N1 billion, stressing that, it is actually worth more than that. He explained that Nigeria Farmers Group and Cooperation (NFGCS) was founded to help farmers secure funds and grow their business.
“What VP Osinbajo said was that we are worth N1 billion today and I believe he undervalued our worth. We are currently sitting on 3,500hectares of land, with 500 cows and sheep. This is one of the single largest indigenous warehouse in the North Central with 30,000tons capacity,” he said.
He said as at April, 2018 when audit was carried out, the business had done transactions worth over N1billion. “Our Banks are FCMB, Keystone, Access, Zenith, etc. We are preparing the audit for the AGM in December 2019 and we are sure our financials will be well over N2billion,” he said.
He encouraged Nigerians to visit the farm and confirm if the Vice President was right to say the business is now worth N1billion. “What you have to do is visit the project site and confirm if Vice President Osinbajo was not telling the truth. We are just about one hour drive from Abuja.”
He then went on to explain how they have managed to source for funds. “In 2018, we applied for N1.5billion under the CACs of the Central Bank of Nigeria and it was reduced to N1billion and later N720m.
“Today, with the help of Kiakia (an online financial market company) we have just raised $10m with the first tranche of $2.5m to be made available in machineries and operational cost this fourth quarter. We currently have six units of rice mills, each with a capacity of 15tons/day.
He added that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture supported NFGCS with subsidized materials worth more than N150 million in the last two years.
“In the past week alone, we have brought in four rice reapers and threshers worth more than N25 million to support rice farmers in Awe LGA in Nasarawa state.
“We are building two hectares of rice parboiling city in Ga’ate for the local people. We have also built our iron work materials. From this vendor, we have done over N150 million in two years as we grow our engineering and fabricating units.
“In 2017, we planted only maize with about 3,000tons yields. In 2018, we planted ginger, turmeric, Sesame seed, cowpea, yam, soyabeans etc. In 2018 also we planted about 750 hectares of Sesame Seed and in 2019 planted about 500 hectares of melon. Today have 100 hectares of yam.
“We planted 10 hectares of Ruzi grass bought from NAPRI, Zaria. We are employing over 300 workers and about 30Fulani herdsmen who are saddled with the responsibility of securing the farm. We are today working on land for 10,000 cows for fattening, dairy and breeding.
“Currently, our salary bill is in excess of N3 million monthly, we are employing over 300 people, most of whom are casual workers, but they have been with us since 2017,” he said.
“By 2020, we will have a feed mill for poultry, turkey and cow. We will also have a groundnut oil mill as well as a soyabeans oil mill. We have planted over 600 palm trees in Nasarawa and are planting 10,000 palm trees. We just received 100 apple trees from Kenya and have planted them.
He explained that the business has also engaged in Corporate Social Responsibility. “We furnished the Sarki’s palace, built a Community Learning Center and worked on the road leading to the farm including culverts.”
Mr Tedheke embodies the Nigerian story. He was born in Jos, Plateau State and then moved to Ughelli, Delta State but his formative years were in Kaduna State and then he observed the mandatory one-year service after tertiary education in Akure, Ondo State.
To add an icing to the cake, his wife is from Anambra State. Mr Tedheke who has since bagged the title, Sarki Yarkin Ga’ate in Nasarawa state campaigns for a Nigeria without borders, hinging his belief on the fact that there is so much we can achieve in unity.