Access to Finance remains a huge Roadblock for Farmers in Nigeria

The Abadini Group, a Nigerian enterprise, is the producer of Abadini rice. From five hectares of farmland, it has rapidly grown to 200 hectares with the total rice output of 300,000 bags of rice so far. The company is on the verge of increasing its production capacity to 130 tonnes per day from its current capacity of 30 to 40 tonnes of rice per day. Aside from rice cultivation, the company is dedicated to cultivating quality maize seedlings as well as rearing of poultry birds and pigs, investing heavily in animal ranching. Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Abraham Ogebe Adonduwa, in this interview with GBENGA AKINFENWA, spoke on his drive and challenges confronting rice production in the country.

Farming and agribusiness are areas, which most youths are scared of putting their investment, what’s your motivation?
My motivation lies solely on passion, vision and mission to be a part of Nigerians who make food available in every nook and cranny of the country. Ironically, I didn’t start with rice production. I started several businesses in Jos, Plateau State while studying Computer Science at the University of Jos. These businesses quickly gained momentum but were adversely affected by inter-religious/ethnic crisis and were effectively dissolved, which necessitated my relocation to Abuja and a foray into real estate development and marketing.

Undaunted, and in true entrepreneurial spirit, I leveraged on successes in the real estate sector and diversified into agriculture. The Abadini Group, which one of its subsidiaries is rice farming was founded in December 2017. With the help of visionary youths of like minds, the company has grown into what it is today.

Today, Abadini Rice has provided over 300,000 bags to Nigerians and still counting. Again, the present administration’s drive, which encouraged the youths to go into farming, spurred me into action. I am a man of action, so, I didn’t think twice when I made the decision to commence rice farming. I was inspired to start rice production by a man I did real estate business with in Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He sowed the seed in my heart when he promised to buy up everything if I could process and bag the rice from my farm.

What has been your challenge since you took-off?
For the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) like mine, access to finance remains the most prevalent challenge. There is also insecurity factor, as well as human capital, which remain the bane of every Nigerian business.

Corruption is certainly not a preserve of the rich and powerful or the political leaders. It stems from the people and it is endemic in every facet of Nigeria’s existence today. The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is highly commendable. For the first time, we witnessed a government that is paying attention to the farmers through incentives. Without doubt, it has boosted the agricultural sector as more people have shown interest to go into farming or many people have seen farming as a viable venture.

Though we are yet to enjoy support from the government, we are hopeful that they will recognise our efforts and partner with us.

You started two years ago with five hectares of farmland, which has rapidly grown to 200 hectares, what is the secret?
We grew fast as a company because of our commitment in maintaining quality and high standard. And of course, acceptability and patronage as a ‘Made in Nigeria’ product. The team here at Abadini is focused on farming, processing and packaging rice that’s ready for immediate consumption.

Processed with high standards and in quality-controlled environment, Abadini grains are clean, delicious, healthy and free from stone and preservatives. The team is also committed to providing high-quality rice and maize that are free of chemicals, stone and preservatives. Our rice products are healthy and cost-effective, while remaining organic and uncompromising on flavour.

Two years ago, we began on a five-hectare farmland in Benue State, and we proceeded to process with locally manufactured machines and bagged in poorly made woven sacks. The result? Our sacks had a brand name that peeled off and the rice was unclean and packed with stones. But we completely sold out in two weeks. This was all the impetus we needed to fuel our drive to succeed. Abadini will be three years in December. Now we are on the cusp of installing a brand new complete rice milling line with 40 tons per day capacity.

We have also proceeded to order for another line that will bring our combined production capacity to 130 tons per day. Our ideas and drive is to cater for the 200 million Nigerians locally and a global market that is growing rapidly and brimming with opportunities. We have achieved so much in a short space of time by sheer will and determination and a lot of God’s grace. I am a man who believes very deeply that all our efforts are in futility if we don’t enjoy the grace of God. Right now we are not just farming rice but also producing every day with a daily combined capacity of 30 to 40 tons per day.

One of the major challenge facing Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) is finance, how do you access finance to boost your company?
Abadini is a privately owned company with a board of directors who are helping to drive the mission and vision of the organisation. Again, I am happy to say that 99 per cent of us are less than 40 years. We also have an experienced hand in Engr. S. Adondua, a member of the board and shareholder. He is a seasoned Chemical Engineer with over 35 years working experience. He serves in advisory capacity and offers guidance and assistance, bringing the wealth of his experience and vast network to bear.

Also, we have investment categories, which allows an ordinary Nigerian to invest. You may call it ‘Abadini Investment Inclusion’ in the sense that we have a programme called Abadini Growers’ Programme whereby an investors can sponsor a unit with N250, 000 at 25 per cent return on investment (Rol) in eight months or invest in 50 units and above and get 27 per cent (Rol). You may wonder why the healthy returns. It is simple. At competitive interest rates, you can invest and get your money back (including interest) within the shortest possible time. You can also choose to revolve your capital and interest for another cycle. Payback period is within six to eight months, depending on the farm type, you can grow your investments from seeds to trees.

As earlier said, with as low as N50, 000 you can be an investor and watch your money work while you sleep. Investments are risky by nature, but we’ve gone an extra mile to ensure your investments are 100 per cent insured and backed up by reputable and experienced insurance providers. We have resorted to crowd funding, especially for our farming operations. We are also believing that the Federal Government will partner with us, as we are more than qualified for nearly all the agriculture intervention funds spearheaded by the CBN.

Aside from production of rice, what other line of agribusiness is Abadini Group involved?
We are dedicated to cultivating quality maize seedlings, as well as rearing of poultry birds and pigs in Abadini ranches. We invested heavily in animal ranching. Right now, we also have our fish farms, poultry, pig farms and cattle fattening farms. We are about to commence meat production in a clean and industrial meat-producing factory. We recognise that the market opportunity for our products is beyond our imagination and current situation; rice, maize, housing (which encompasses our block industries), processed and packaged meat (including but not limited to Pork, Beef, Chicken, Turkey), fish and animal rearing (Pigs, Chicken, Goats, Cows, Sheep). We believe that with substantial growth capital we can decisively claim market leadership and substantially expand the market potentials for the company.

We are consolidating on our trajectory in the rice production, packaging and sales, which has seen a significant and constant rise in demand. As a company, we are interested in providing solutions across the entire agriculture value chain. We have a vision and a mission to make Nigeria great. We believe that food sufficiency is one of the surest paths to achieving this ultimate dream.

To you, what are the major challenges confronting the rice industry?
Access to finance, middlemen who cause serious inflation of raw paddy rice, insecurity, and lack of infrastructure. For instance, we had to invest millions of naira on a standby power generating plant at our rice mill. It will be a win-win situation for us as a group, company and Nigerians if government can make electricity more available.

Nigerians are averse to consumption of local rice due to quality and price, what will be the Unique Selling Point (USP) of your rice?
Abadini Rice is fast becoming Nigeria’s foremost rice brand. We are able to achieve this because our rice is clean, sweet and free of stones or chaff and also because we have the best packaging anywhere in Sub-Saharan Africa.

We are building a brand that proffers healthy solutions to staple foods and excellent customer service. Also, we are committed to long-term value creation. Our priority is to win in the marketplace, provide value for our investors and shareholders and impact the business community and the Nigerian economy. We also believe that technology is the future of business and as such, we are well poised to seize the opportunity with Abadini Agritech.

The Federal Government claims the country currently produces 150,000 bags daily, how true is this claim?
The Federal Government alone is in the best position to confirm or deny this.  And if the claim is true, it is a plus for us as a country considering the amount being spent on rice importation yearly. We all know that home grown companies will not only provide jobs for the youths, it will also strengthen our local economy.

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