Nojet is a young vegetable entrepreneur inspired by IFDC training programs. Her story is below:
My name is Nojet Achi. I attended Ahmed Bello University where I studied mass communication. I also attended the Nigerian Defense Academy, a famous African military university, where I got my master’s degree in development studies. I have been into farming since I was a kid, as my parents were peasant farmers, not commercial ones. Now, I’m in the business of buying and selling vegetables. Usually, I get most of the vegetables from farmers in Jos, but I get some from other states as well. I’m into a special kind of marketing where I do home delivery. Whatever vegetable you want, I package it per kilo and send it to your place. You just make a phone call and your vegetables are outside your door within 24 hours.
One day, I thought, “Why not grow some of the products I sell?” So, I started to grow some vegetables in my backyard. A big challenge was the seed quality – most of the seed I planted gave me issues. I had been reading about IFDC online, and one day I saw an IFDC pick-up entering a farm. I followed it, and that is how I learned about East-West Seed, a 2SCALE project partner. It was a miracle.
As soon as I started growing produce from East-West Seed, I noticed these products were really unique. One interesting thing is their longer shelf life – whether you sell them immediately or not, they won’t spoil quickly. Take the cucumbers for example. I cut one and left it in the fridge for a while. Even though we had power supply issues, the cucumber was still good even after three weeks!
I also kept reading about vegetables and their benefits regarding health. I began educating people around me about eating healthier. Now, the business is becoming very profitable, and I have been able to save some money. I also work as a radio presenter, but the hours are flexible, so I get time to sell produce and attend training seminars for farming.
The farm is going very well, and the profits have been good. Like Jan Arie [from East-West Seed] says, it’s not about how big your farm is – it is all about yield. I planted less than half a hectare, and I’m growing cauliflower, sweet peppers, onions, radishes, sweet corn, carrots, and strawberries – though the strawberries are not from East-West Seed. Whenever I bring my vegetables to the market, people are curious and always ask where I get them.
I’m trying to involve church members, because that’s the best way you can connect with youth. I can’t just walk into people’s houses and tell them to come see my farm. The church is a great place to start involving young men and women on the farm – to teach them some basic things about farming, and to get them interested in improving their diets and eating healthy food. People are always talking about cancer, diabetes, and other diseases we can fight through healthy eating. I’m not a doctor, but eating a lot of vegetables has to help fight off some diseases!
The name of my company is Achi Green Farms, Ltd. We are looking at expanding by building a greenhouse. The biggest challenge is, of course, money, but I’m getting there step by step. A greenhouse will give me total control over my crops and allow constant production of very beautiful vegetables all year round in a healthy environment.
I read a lot about IFDC before I even met the staff. I love the training they organize. The beautiful thing about IFDC is how the organization exposes you to the outside world. They show you there is no limit, and you can go above what you imagine. IFDC encourages learning by fostering interaction with other farmers, so that everyone can learn something. It goes beyond farming – they want to open our minds to partnership. It includes all the collaboration alongside the value chain, from the soil to the market.
Through 2SCALE, IFDC taught me if you have passion – even if you have a small farm – you can make it.
Nojet’s story is part of our series about Youth in Agriculture in West Africa.