Special interview of Chief F. Ogunnaike on farming success secrets
“We have so many challenges as farmers. But since you have taken it as your profession, one has to forge ahead and endure.”
FAD: Tell us about your experience so far in farming industry?
OGUNNAIKE: My experience is that farming is full of ups and downs but if you endure you will get there. But you have to spend close to 90 per cent of your time on it. Youwill reduce your social life style to enable you succeed because it is a business that involves all year round. I have over 40 years experience in farming.
FAD: From your experience sir how big can one make it in farming?
OGUNNAIKE : I think the best thing for somebody, is for you to do it in the small and medium scale. The higher you go the higher the risk. I think it is a statement of fact but the truth at times is bitter. I used to tell people there is a difference between running a business for profitability and running it for prestige. If you work towards profitability the prestige will eventually follow. However a lot of people go for prestige at the expense of profitability and they eventually fall flat on their faces.
For example now if you want to be mobile you don’t need to start with a Jeep, you can even start with a very good Motor Cycle, to make you mobile and reach your destination in time. If you are looking for good office you may not necessarily start with a big office. Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t try to please the world butalways try to please yourself and your God.
FAD: No doubt you have faced difficulties in this business. What are the greatest difficulties you have ever passed through in this business sir?
HOPE: Year in year out is one problem or the other. This year it may be scarcity of animal protein, next year it may be crisis of energy, the other year it may be problem of plant protein, or animal protein, the following year it may be egg glut. Year in year out we have problems. All you need to do as I have said earlier is to endure and forge ahead and make sure you get it right.
I don’t know of any farmer who has run the business for a year without having each of these problems in one way or the other. We have so many challenges as farmers, since you have taken it as your profession, one has to forge ahead and endure.
FAD: What do you think the farmers in Nigeria can do to help themselves?
OGUNNAIKE: Well, when you might have gone into farming, you have to cultivate habit of judicious spending, and spending wisely. It is one thing to make plenty of naira today with the aim of making more tomorrow. If you lavish this one anyhow, that of tomorrow may not come. One should not be wasteful and you should not have taste for very expensive materials. For example now a beginner who wants to start poultry production with automation. You want to go to the bank to borrow, then they slam 22-25 per cent on you at the end of the day you will be biting your finger.
Here now we have a cup and then we have a calabash cup which our father uses to drink palm wine. If you wash the calabash and use it to drink it will give you the same satisfaction. If you want to phone Atlanta or United State of America the cost of the handset does not matter. There is the difference between wants and needs. Wants are what you like but that you do not really need. Your three square meals a day is a need. To cloth you, take care of family responsibilities are all needs. If you want a place to accommodate you and your family, what you need is home not mansion, because when you are going to build a mansion what you are going to put together is greater than somebody building a home.
And when you might have done all these at the expense of bank loan such a person is ruining himself directly or indirectly. This is where the law of moderation comes in. If you want to venture into any business if you are a Christian, go and read the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. If you digest it properly it will lead you all the way. If you have element of pride in you, you will be forced to humble yourself.
FAD: Sir what do you think government can do to help farmers in Nigeria?
OGUNNAIKE: There is so much that the government should do for the populace. When you step out of this country into the developed countries, you will know what I mean. At fifty years independence, we should have gone further than where we are now. There are a lot of problems.
FAD: What do you think are the three basic secrets of business success?
OGUNNAIKE: Believe that you can never achieve anything without the approval of God, because God first is the key to all problems. Secondly you have to put it in mind that every body has his own assignment in this world. Out of assignment you can have vision or mission then thirdly you put honesty as your watch word. Under honesty you will have to work within law of moderation, so those are the three essential ingredients to become a good business man
FAD: Tell us about your company .what you are doing in your own way to help farmers.
OGUNNAIKE: FOL-HOPE started in 1978 as small scale poultry farming, but towards the tail end of 1983 there was scarcity of raw materials, then we were forced to go into feed mill production to sustain the poultry. Later we included rearing of Pigs and then Fish production. We also moved to palm tree plantation. We operate mainly in the South West region. In other to help farmers grow, the little God gives to us is what we give to help them. You see, the prayer I pray most is that when we are aged and pass away whatever our children find left, let them share it. If your assets are worth N200,000 and your liability is N60,000, you are still OK. But when your liability is greater than assets such a person will not be regarded as a successful businessman.
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