Special Interview with CHIEF S. OHWOFA, CEO, NUTRIVITAS LIMITED.. a must read for farmers
WORLD FARMERS CENTRE : What are the greatest problems of farmers in Nigeria?
OHWOFA: The first problem is that government does not have good working policies. Nigeria has myriads of problems including bad roads and epileptic power supply. There is also a lot of confusion in the farming industry due to the activities of quacks. There are so many vendors without standards. Farmers are under a lot of pressures from banks, energy problems and unserious workers.
Like I always ask: does it make sense if you have 100,000 layers and you are producing at 65-75 per cent? Is there the need to expand your farm to 120,000 layers? Instead why don’t you look at how you can improve your efficiency to about 75-85 per cent instead of 65-75 percent, which is 10 percent efficiency to make you better of than expansion? If you expand it will be additional expenses and labour whereas using the same resources will make you more money. I think these are what farmers should look at. I am sure where we are now; margins are getting thinner, not like in those days when we have high margins. Just like you have in Europe, if you make a profit margin of 5 per cent in your business that means you are doing extremely well and I think we are getting to that level where efficiency is the only way to make it.
People need to measure these.
Everything is capital intensive these days and once you are not making margins you cannot meet up with inflation, bills etc. If you are an egg producer you may not know all these until you want to have replacement of stocks. Then the farmer will discover he does not have money to continue profitably in farming.
Nutrition is critical to both animal and man. As a human if you have good nutrition, you will be healthy and you can work more. If you do not eat properly, you may look healthy but your brain may not function optimally and this will affect your work. So also it goes with animal in terms of nutrition. Where you have 10 chickens and 2 are sick, you cannot possibly get 10 eggs. The issue is if you get your nutrition right even if the feed is expensive you will discover that you will recover up to 80 percent, which is not a bad performance. You will also discover that the rate of diseases will reduce and this will earn you good profit, as you will save cost on medications. This will also enhance personnel growth.
If you get your nutrition right, other factors such as weather becomes minimal. Factors like hot weather affecting birds can be handled nutritionally by giving the birds ascorbic acid mixed in their feeds, which is cheaper. So a lot of help can be done through feeds, be it poultry, piggery, cattle and so on. For example our cattle here look so haggard. Cows spend much time looking for food and the quality of the grass is another thing. These cattle that should weigh 300 kilos will be seen weighing 200 kilos. These are all due to ignorance on nutrition.
There are also many problems with the macro ingredients like maize and soya in terms of quality. All these ultimately go down to affect the productivity and profit of farmers.
WORLD FARMERS CENTRE: What do you think farmers can do to help themselves?
OHWOFA: They should always ask themselves why they are in farming. If you don’t define your objective, then you will not know why you are working. Farmers need to set goals. If you say you have 10,000 layers today how many do you want to have next? Do you want to remain at 10,000 or you want to move to 20,000? Do you want to borrow more money or generate more money? If you borrow more money does that help you? Are you not putting yourself under strain? The money is not free. You have to put in interest and be able to pay back.
Banks don’t have mercy. If you take a loan from the bank and you cannot pay back at maturity, you have to renegotiate with additional interest and penalties. It is better if you have equity and loan to meet up. For instance if you have 10,000 layers and you want to increase to 20,000, you have 10,000 which can generate the cost of additional 10,000. You know from your present 10,000 you can generate 2.5 million. In this case if you borrow 2.5 million naira it is easier to pay 2.5 million back than when you borrow the whole 5 million that you need for your operations. You must have an objective on what you want to do, whether you want to farm as a hobby or you want to farm as business. Then you can take your decision from there.