According to the Collins English Dictionary, a trend is “a change or development towards something new or different”. The interest, participation and investment in agribusiness in Nigeria can be described as a growing trend and more opportunities are opening up as a result.

  • Food-focused areas: The nation’s policy on Agriculture as articulated in the Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP) has provided for participation and investment in food production, processing and trade, including export of select crops and livestock. What do you need to do? Grab a copy of the APP and read it up and you will be amazed at the information therein.
  • Health-focused areas: Natural medicine isn’t new to us. It’s been in practice for ages and rural dwellers find it more available and affordable than conventional healthcare services. In 2017, the Bill to regulate, promote traditional medicine in Nigeria passed its 2nd reading at the National Assembly; the National Universities Commission (NUC) has approved the curriculum for courses in Natural Medicine in Nigerian universities; three universities, namely, the University of Ibadan, the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, and the Samuel Adegboyega University, Ogwa, have commenced courses in Natural Medicine.

In addition, an expert committee, with members drawn from all the key government research and regulatory agencies, set up by the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) to draw up standards for official identification of African medicinal plants, has also, made tremendous progress in its research findings. What does that tell us? There’s going to be an explosion of activities in the production, processing, packaging and trading in roots, herbs and spices, as well as, fruits and vegetables. What opportunities have you identified for your business?

  • Entertainment-focused areas: In times past, agriculture was regarded as a rigorous and boring vocation. Well, not anymore. Those who watch DSTV channels like Animal Planet, The Geographic Channel, etc, can attest to the level of information, knowledge and entertainment those channels offer. And so, there are opportunities for our writers, journalists, film producers, etc, to churn out radio and television programmes, documentaries, cartoons, etc, using our local stories; agricultural shows and fairs; farm visits and tours to botanical and zoological gardens, etc; food/cooking competition, agribusiness hackathon and other innovative competitions; etc.
  • Provision of Goods & Services: You cannot begin to imagine the gap that exists between the agro-entrepreneurs and suppliers of desperately needed goods and services. The availability and accessibility to genuine and good quality inputs is another story altogether. But with ICT, opportunities abound to become a key player in the sector. You can be an input and/or output supplier; you can build a network of suppliers and establish a hub and you can also provide professional services such as property purchase/lease, insurance services, training and capacity building services, consulting and advisory services, financial services (loans and grants), etc. If your products/services are affordable and of good quality, you are in business!!
  • Technology-focused areas: Whether we like it or not, technology has come to stay and no business can achieve sustainable growth without the use of technology. In agribusiness, we have operational and innovative technologies.

The operational technologies have to do with improvements using equipment and machinery such as tractors, fabricated equipment and tools, laboratories, software applications, for business management, extension service providers, etc.

Innovative technologies, on the other hand, are business solutions that not only improve the management of the business, but also improve the environment, yield, post-harvest wastes, etc. They include the use of hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics, drones, greenhouse/screenhouse, hermetic bags, etc. So, we are calling for the creative people and the inventors in our midst…come and get some piece of this pie!

  • Retailing: In Europe and America, the Farmer’s Market is a brand shop with thousands of outlets selling fresh farm produce to the public. That is their niche. In addition, they provide a convenient and comfortable shopping experience. Apart from a few shops around, most people do not have a choice other than the open market where ‘convenient’ and ‘comfortable’ shopping are very strange terms. So, there are opportunities for shop brands, with outlets state-wide and nation-wide with exclusive focus as a community outlet with beautifully and professionally packaged, showcased and fresh farm produce. Fresh foods are attractive any day!
  • Waste-focused areas: The popular motto, Reuse-Reduce-Recycle, could not have found a better expression in agribusiness. Here, what cannot be re-used (e.g, water) is reduced, and what cannot be reduced (e.g animal dung) is recycled. 90% of the time, there is nothing that is totally useless. Take palm for instance, whether oil palm or coconut palm, raffia palm or date palm; everything on that tree is useful. Meanwhile, organic farmers and proponents of urban agriculture are lamenting the unavailability and un-affordability of desperately needed materials for their operations, mostly obtained from wastes. We therefore, need business ideas that will mop up agricultural wastes, from weeds/grass to plastics, for recycling. For instance, did you know that periwinkle shells are used as building construction materials (equivalent of granite); snail shells are used to make buttons; raffia used for furniture; and that discarded plastics can be used for planting?
  • Green Energy: The world is going green with emphasis on environmental conservation and protection. We really do not have any choice right now because climate change is here and her tell-tale signs are causing enough misery as it is. So, green careers, green businesses and green jobs are the rave-of-the-moment. In agriculture, source materials abound for the production of green/renewable energy which is largely untapped. In a country, like Nigeria, with poor energy supply, you’d have thought that the sub-sector will be brimming with players and investors. Nevertheless, there are numerous opportunities with solar, water and wind; biogas from agricultural wastes, etc; bio-fuel from agricultural produce (edible {cassava, maize, sugarcane, etc} and inedible {jatropha}); all of which we have in abundance but lack the infrastructure to convert them to affordable energy. And I must tell you…the demand is huge, whether domestic, commercial or industrial.
  • Ornamental Agriculture: All over the world, people have always loved things of pleasure and recreation. The agricultural activity that offers these two attributes is described as ornamental agriculture where in crops, you have flowers and other decorative plants; livestock is utilized as pets such as dogs, cats, birds, etc and for sports such as horses, bulls, etc; with services in the area of tourism and hospitality. So opportunities abound for veterinary medicine practitioners, infrastructure producers such as pet cages, aquarium, pet food, shelters, cosmetics/medicines, nursery producers, etc. Let me blow your mind…a specie of ornamental fish costs as much as N40,000 for one piece!
  • Organic Agriculture: Organic agriculture advocates nature-based, chemical free agricultural produce for food, medicine and recreation. In decades past, majority of our subsistence farmers had little or no access to chemical inputs. So, our foods were basically, organically produced. But with commercial production of food, chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, growth hormones, medicines, etc, became hugely utilized. Today, there are growing health concerns, all over the world, on the negative effects of those chemicals on the human body upon consumption of foods where applied in the course of production and processing. Organic foods have become very popular as a result of its health benefits and especially, for people dependent on nutritional therapy. There are opportunities for farmers, input and output producers, health practitioners, advocacy, regulation, infrastructure, logistics, etc.