By Arogbonlo Israel
As farming is beginning to look like the future of the economy in Nigeria, an accountant, Mr. Saliu Rasheed, who recently transition from practicing accounting proffessionally to being a farmer shares his success story with Vanguard.
Good afternoon. Congratulations on your ascension into office. Can you tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Saliu Rasheed. I’m a master degree holder and a PhD in view. Happily married with children. I got involved in poultry business about nine years ago as God designed it. I was scheduled to write my PhD in Canada. Fortunately, my wife has to be engaged in something so, I decided to set up a poultry for her. Along the line, we lost all the birds. With my inquisitiveness to found out what happened, I found myself fully involved in the business with a lot of good success stories to tell. Today, I am the President of Ayedoto Poultry Farm.
As the president of Ayedoto Poultry Farm, what’s your expansion plan?
Ayedoto Poultry Farm situated at Kilometre 17, Badagry expressway was set up about 30 years ago. It’s a settlement created by Lagos State Government where allocation is given via the land and public-private partnership. The farmers construct their pens and operate them. Since we resumed office, our expansion plan is to see how we can extend this place by occupying the neighbourhood. The process has started though it’s not been quite easy. We believe before this tenure elapses, we should have achieved this plan. We also plan to have an extended session where we can be brooding while this session of the farm will only be exclusive for the big birds. The essence is to reduce the level of mortality becuase the big birds are less vulnerable to diseases compared to the small ones who are vise-versa. To this effect, we have been having some discussions with private individuals on the ability to see how we can expand this plan.
Team work is sine qua non to the achievement of this plan. On which angle is your team, especially your executives standing on this?
They are 100 per cent in support of it, and to God be the glory, we’re focused by not derailing on our plan. We’ve discussed extensively on channels to adopt in ensuring that everybody is carried along and also tactically discussed in some of our meetings these plans. It’s our collective responsibility to convince people on the need to carryout this expansion drive. Hence, the management is desirous of these plans and passionate about bringing this change.
It’s adversely said that succession plan is the bedrock of every healthy business. What’s your succession plan like?
Before coming on board as the president, there was a succession plan. The immediate past president contributed immensely to the development of this place. We’ve been part and parcel of the administration then despite the fact we’re not part of the executives but because of my engagement at the committee level, they felt the need to hand over mantle of leadership to me. For me, continuity is the sole of every business of which we’re on track. We look forward to handing over to a credible candidate who will also continue on this expansion drive and make sure the farm move to the next level.
As an entrepreneur, what’s it that motivates and drives you?
(Pauses) A lot of factors motivate; passion to succeed, desire to ensure people don’t fail and also seeing young entrepreneurs who are desirous of success. I’m so passionate about agriculture, especially the Poultry Industry in Nigeria. These are factors that have been propelling me to succeed.
Where do you see Ayedoto Poultry Farm in the nearest future?
(Smiles) We see ourselves going places. Sooner than later, we’ll be globally noticed. We’ve been noticed by Lagos State Government as an arm of its Ministry of Agriculture. It’s our dream to also be noticed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture soonest. Our desire is this, we’re going to have a web site to sell ourselves to foreign organisations to enable them know what we do and how we do it. We are welcoming criticisms and suggestions on how we can improve on the existing statoscope. So, we’re trying to maintain standard operating procedure that in turn, we attract foreign investors and improve the farm.
What has been the most rewarding part of your role with Ayedoto Poultry Farm?
In growing poultry or agriculture generally, one needs to be very patient and have the passion burning inside of you. However, it’s been very rewarding for me. We commenced this business with about a thousand birds and at a point in time, we’re over ten thousand birds. As a result of low stock, we’re currently left with five thousand birds. God willing, we are about to shoot up to fifteen thousand sooner or later. Though challenging like every other business, we’re optimistic through more government support to grow the business to landmark.
How has the challenges been so far since you take over the mantle of leadership?
The challenges are much. The agricultural sector itself has been faced with many challenges and the most resounding one is the cost of production which has been on the rise in recent times. This has been challenging for farmers. Also, we have the middlemen challenge because an average African farmer is never interested in selling his product by himself. He is only concerned about production unlike our counterparts in other climes. So, this has been a major factor that has been mitigating against the growth of the business in Nigeria, viz-a-viz Lagos State. Furthermore, since we resumed office, our challenge has been the attitude to change and innovation. However, the world is evolving and changing. The earlier we change with the world, the better for us. Through extensive interaction with member farmers, we’re planning to adopt modern practices and Information Communication Technology in the Nigeria Poultry Industry.
As president of Ayedoto Poultry Farm, what are you bringing on board to improve the Nigeria’s economy?
Well… we at a micro level, we hope to develop more than the macro level. However, looking at the environment we find ourselves, that is, from Agric to Barracks, we have the largest workforce approximately 500 farmers viz-a-viz 2,000 staff generally. So, we’ve reduced the level of unemployment within our environment and hope to continue this development drive via our expansion plan I earlier mentioned. Furthermore, our egg production covers about four local government areas (Oriade, Amuodofin, Ojo, volks and Agbara). We produce more than 5,000 crates of eggs per day within this complex and our service covers as far as Ibadan among other neighbouring cities. We also buy feeds between 250-300 tonnes (approximately N50 million a day and N2 billion in a month) daily from some of these companies who are into feeds production. So, the industry we have here is a very large one and we contributed to the development of Lagos State and in turn the government has been receiving our contributions, and in turn, improving its Gross Domestic Profit (GDP) and Nigeria by extension.
What are the plans in place to attract foreign investors?
Like I said earlier, we’re trying to make ourselves more known and visible to the international world. In lieu of that, we’ve created our website and also opened our chains of communication to some foreign organisations. We are open to further collaboration with anybody who wants to partner with us. As you can see, the modern toilet we just built is a public-partnership initiative. Right now, we’re working on having an aggregated poultry centre which is also a public partnership arrangement where we process birds on daily basis in a more hygienic and desirous manner.
Do you have any of your farmers who have benefited from your initiative?
Currently, there is a programme by Appeal (agro-processing productivity enhancement and livelihood improvement support project) of which 11 farmers benefited from the 500 pullets distributed by the organisers. Appeal is also making move to improve our manure processing centre by supplying us a more integrated system and we’ve been keeping cordial relationship with them. Also, efforts are underway to ensure that more farmers benefit from this initiative as time goes by.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
This is a very good question. They must be patient, research-drive, studious, and understand what it takes to be a farmer. Farming is not just constructing or doing anything, it goes beyond that. I advise they meet experts to know what it takes to be in the business. Lastly, they must be dynamic, focus and creative in all they do because the world is evolving, the poultry industry in particular. Hence, you must be technologically-driven to be successful in the industry.