Aminu Nyako: Paving way for dairy farming in Northeast
Amid the spate of insecurity, terrorism, internally displaced persons’ crises, poverty and farmer/herder chaos ripping the northeast apart, Sebore International Farms, has come to break the vicious circle with agriculture.
Aminu Nyako, is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Sebore International Farms, one of the pioneering farms working with the Central Bank to democratise opportunity in Adamawa State.
Sebore farms employs innovation, technology, and relationships with dairy farmers to provide consumers with high-quality dairy products made from high-quality raw milk sourced from Adamawa’s magnificent natural environment, while also creating a massive market for local dairy farmers, ultimately creating wealth, alleviating poverty and establishing an incentivised system that provides a viable alternative to banditry and all other forms of criminality.
For Nyako, his farm has continued to positively impact the local people and transformed the narratives of the Northeast. His agricultural value chain system affects dairy farmers’ lives, combats insurgency and generates economic growth both locally and nationally.
Launched in 1982, Sabore International Farms focuses primarily on dairy, horticulture and agricultural extension services. Its mangoes and dairy products are well-known. And it has been licensed to become an expert processing zone since 2001. It is one of Nigeria’s only privately owned agro processing free trade zones, which sits on 15,000 hectares of land.
While noting that he became the CEO of Sebore International Farms four years ago, Nyako highlighted that the goal was to reposition the farm for future prospects and innovation.
“The development of our dairy business became of key interest to me because the dairy space within the Northeast Nigeria, Adamawa State in particular, is such a rich resource base,” he enthused.
With the knowledge that the lifestyle of the local people has always been around cattle, one of the chief goals of Sebore is how to change that innate wealth of the people to bring about prosperity and improvement in means of livelihood. “And I think that’s what we’ve been focused on and that’s what we’re doing.”
Speaking on how he delved into this line of entrepreneurship, Nyako expressed: “I chose to go into agriculture because it’s the sector with the greatest opportunity for growth; and if harnessed properly, presents an opportunity for wealth generation.
“For any country to become a developed society or a prospering society it must find a way of making her agriculture make sense. It means that you have to make it attractive economically, you have to be able to put science within it.”
He emphasised that by science he meant that inputs should equal output, and technology should be able to bridge that gap in terms of financing gaps, productivity gaps, and the likes. Nyako said for far too long, they have left their subsistence farmers within the agric space to do what they have always known without innovating in the right direction.
The CEO stated that Nigeria is growing at a whopping 4 per cent birth rate for the past couple of decades. “And I believe right now we are about 210 to 220 million people.
“Nigeria is a growing country and if you leave the factors of production (land, water and its people) constant, then your agric doesn’t grow that much. For a country that has also had its poverty rate increasing because of our low GDP growth in the past couple of years, you need people that have this sort of thinking to enter the agric space, and to be able to innovate their way through or solve their way through.”
On the roles of private equity in conjunction with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in funding agricultural business in the country, Nyako informed that they help provide long term financing. This ultimately curbs most of the risks of defaulting that are otherwise prevalent in existing short-term financing.
As one who has a background in economics, the Sebore International Farms boss affirmed that agriculture, when not fully mechanised, is a gravely risky game. He added, “You need a very precise growing environment (temperature, humidity) in order for you to have maximum productivity and because not a lot of research has been put into weather and climate in Nigeria, the risk for farmers becomes very high.”
Nyako, however, noted that the CBN has played an undeniably tremendous role in extending long term finance to the private sector.
He affirmed it has also supported agric businesses with monetary and favourable fiscal policies. “I think that is very key in giving farmers the levity of time to bring innovation and science into Agriculture,” adding that more funding is required because serious players that currently exist within the agric space need to be given a lot of support to be able to bring the sector to its full potential.
Meanwhile, Sebore International Farms believes that its business is built on economic inclusion hinged on pro-poor growth policies. That is, being able to ensure that their local farmers share in the gains of agriculture.
“It is very important to us that whatever we do within our farm actually extends to the communities where we operate, so much so that they share in the gains made by the farm.
“That is one of the reasons our dairy operations integrated local dairy farmers and gave them access to a ready market to sell their milk at favorable prices thereby improving their means of livelihood.”
Currently, the farm is collecting milk from over six thousand dairy farmers daily. This opportunity for guaranteed milk offtake from the local community, Nyako expressed, has given them economic security in terms of source of livelihood and access to finance which enables them to solve other challenges they may face.
His words, “We have also provided access to water and nutrition for their children. It is our hope that as we grow, these local farmers also grow with us and we all share in the gains from agriculture.”
Today, Sebore International Farms boasts about 2,500 litres of milk daily from the various farms they collect. “We are in the process of increasing our milk processing capacity to 150,000 litres daily and hope to commission the factory by the end of the first quarter of 2022.
“We have invested heavily in improving our capacity for milk collection and hope to grow our farmer base to over twenty thousand by the end 2022.”
With the dairy collection programme designed towards achieving a seamless fit between their collection procedures and the general routine of farmers, Nyako is proud that it has fostered a sense of dignity of work for the local community as they now feel connected with the brand.
And while they continue to leverage technological advancement in power generation through renewable energy in processing and transporting of fresh milk products, Sebore International Farms is charting a new course for the northeast and Nigeria at large.