Harambe’s Agripreneur of the Month: Adesope Samuel
By Tukeni Obasi
Early in 2011, Harambe Nigeria awarded a grant to one of the winners of its business plan competition, Adesope Samuel, who had proposed to start up a bee farm for the purpose of selling honey. At the time, Adesope was ecstatic and ready to take the agribusiness world by storm. Almost 18 months later, Adesope is all smiles. A proud farmer and entrepreneur, he’s watched his seeds bear fruit and has begun to reap dividends from his labour of love.
The beekeeping project was implemented in March 2011 when a piece of land was acquired, and beehives constructed and placed in the apiary. However, to provide protection for the apiary, Adesope planted cashew and melon on the farm. He revealed some initial challenges he faced with the beehives and how he tackled them: “Out of the 9 beehives constructed, four were colonised, and one of the colonised hives was eventually decolonised due to disturbance from cattle Fulanis. This prompted me to construct iron cage to house the colonised hives.”
This turned out to be a wise decision. By November, Adesope was able to harvest four bags of melon (about 400kg) and three months later, about 40 litres of honey were also harvested and sold, in addition to beeswax and propolis. Adesope, who now sells each bag of melon for N8,500, is very impressed with the growth of his business and expressed his dream to be one of the major suppliers of natural and pure honey in Oyo State within the next five years, and ultimately spread his tentacles to bigger cities like Lagos and Abuja.
The grant Adesope received was used strategically. First, he rented three acres of land for five years, constructed nine beehives and three iron cages as well as two sets of bee kits. Money was also spent fumigating the non-colonised hives, clearing and preparing the cashew plantation and acquiring the cashew and melon seeds.
He also invested in a honey extractor and two smokers. Realising the great dividends mechanization would bring, Adesope has also set out to obtain a mower for cutting the grass at the apiary and cashew plantation. With the remaining funds from the grant, he plans to increase the number of the hives, as well as construct iron cages for the entire hive and thus increase his profits as he goes on.
Adesope is part of the new generation of rising agricultural entrepreneurs who, armed with the right skills and technical knowledge, have made a decent living out of farming (apiculture) by becoming entrepreneurs in their own right. An upcoming and relatively successful entrepreneur, Adesope does not plan to go it alone. For him, it is also important to train others – especially his prospective employees and partners – in the techniques of farming and business management.
“Having an idea is different from implementing it,” he warns. Speaking of the importance of the training prior to setting up an agribusiness venture, he says that the training he received from Harambe Nigeria made all the difference. His words: “The training helped me to start the project earlier than I thought. It also helped me… [develop the habit] of taking and keeping records of all activities in the farm as well as looking inward – within the business – to discover other simultaneous business opportunities.”
One of these opportunities is harnessing the by-products of honey – beeswax and royal jelly. The former is a good raw material for candles, cosmetics and drugs whereas the latter, by virtue of its medicinal properties which contribute to increased immunity, possesses immense pharmaceutical value. This increased diversity will allow Adesope to target a wide range of markets, from bakeries (honey) and food markets (melon and cashew) to pharmaceutical companies (royal jelly) and household manufacturing firms (beeswax) – and so ultimately improve his chances of success.
As revenue continues to come into the farm through the sale of honey and melon, Adesope is hopeful, expecting profits to increase as business advances. Starting out as an agricultural enthusiast, he’s found his niche at the confluence of agriculture and business and he’s already begun to coast ahead. For him, there is no going back.
“The project is at the start-up level, as the actual strategy learnt [from the training] is yet to be implemented – though plans are already underway – as my long-term plan is to package the honey according to acceptable standards and sell with much respect and recognition,” he says.