Muyiwa Folorunso is the co-founder of Porkmoney, leaders in Nigeria’s pork industry. In this interview with LINDA OCHUGBUA, he speaks about Porkmoney and its plan to build Nigeria’s biggest private pig farm in 2020 and how the country can fully harness the potential in its livestock value chain.
Porkmoney started two years ago. Can you tell us what birthed the initiative and how far you have come?
Porkmoney was birthed out of the desire to create value in the agricultural ecosystem through pig farming which is highly viable, profitable and sustainable. Many may wonder why Pigs. It’s simple. Pigs are very prolific and resilient and also have the potential to give birth fast, as much as twelve live births every 6 months that grow to 60kg in 8 months. They also have the highest feed to meat ratio of any livestock.
What was the initial investment in Porkmoney and what is the worth of this enterprise today?
Porkmoney was simply an idea I had over 7 years ago that wouldn’t have attained this much success without handwork, dedication and the unrivalled support from our staff and partners. We started with very little, basically off the profits of my previous businesses. In two going on three years, our contribution towards the Nigerian agricultural ecosystem has positioned us the leading pig farming enterprise in the country, having farmed over 15,000 pigs in that period. I believe we are well on our way to becoming a good example of what is possible for the youths who decide to dedicate their energy and creativity towards developing opportunities in the Nigerian agricultural landscape.
Can you highlight the opportunities in pig farming for the economy and individuals?
We cannot deny that agriculture has and will always be a major contributor to the nation’s economy, with livestock farming playing a very significant role. Pig farming contributes largely to the food production and security of the country as well as the generation of revenue by localising the production of pork products thereby bringing to a minimum our heavy reliance on its importation. This is a billion-dollar opportunity that when done well in providing job and investment opportunities for Nigerians and this is what PorkMoney is about. We are tapping into a market that has seen us inject life into the forgotten pig farmers, protecting and growing the livestock sector.
How can Nigeria take advantage of the opportunities inherent in pig farming? Where are the challenges and what support would be necessary for accelerating the potentials?
Pig farming in Nigeria is one of the lucrative and profitable livestock businesses. Commercial pig farming is beneficial since pigs are prolific breeders and can deliver 10 to 14 piglets in a single birth. They also have the highest feed to meat ratio with pigs being not too picky about what they consume. For most small scale pig farmers, the unavailability of adequate finance has become a ball and chain. The government can encourage the practicality of the pig farming value chain by providing access to funding and the formulation of policies that create an enabling environment for pig farming to thrive. Government-sponsored facilities for the farming of pigs would be a smart move with great consequences for the pricing of this most valued animal protein. Education of the masses of the economic and nutritional benefits is perhaps the most important tool for waking up this industry and its immense potential.
Porkmoney estimates annual consumption of pork to be $3bn in Nigeria and Ghana alone. What are the health benefits of pork?
There are many health benefits of pork but I’ll highlight a few. The Vitamin B6 present in pork meat helps in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates and keeps proper functioning of the nervous system. It is also important for the formation of red blood cells. Pork is a good source of protein and amino acids. Also, the zinc present in pork boosts the immune system and improves body resistance against numerous diseases. It is also essential for a healthy brain. Of all the animal proteins, pork has the most uses and it is ironic that in Nigeria it is the most frowned upon, but that is likely due to religious reasons alone.
Tell us about your plan to build Nigeria’s biggest private pig farm in 2020?
Our goal for 2020 is to own the largest non-government owned pig farm in Nigeria. Outside of the controlled and cost-efficient farming effort, this allows, it also allows for the training of the future of pig farming in the country. Our resources and efforts would see us encourage thousands of people to become vested in this sector of the livestock agricultural ecosystem. We have currently purchased a 100-acre property in the Epe area of Lagos for this purpose.
What lessons have you learned in your journey of building a successful pig farming business?
The first one is that a business must add value. Making money is a huge motivator in all of our lives, but I have learned firsthand that you should never travel down a road just because there is a promise of financial gain. You need to have a real passion for what you are doing and the decisions you are making for these decisions to be worth it. Another is that there is power in starting small. So many people are afraid to get started because they think they need a lot to achieve success. Don’t be afraid to start small. Everyone has to start somewhere, and you don’t need a lot to do it. Start with what you have.
In terms of impact, how would you access Porkmoney? How much employment have you created across the value chain and in terms of training and capacity-building, how many successful pig farmers have you raised?
Porkmoney had impacted the livestock farming sector, especially in the pig farming niche. Since our launch, we have been able to empower hundreds of farmers (Over 500) with the resources they need to thrive, ensuring that they are well informed about new and modern pig farming practices and also equipping small scale farmers with a platform to expand. We also provide them with free training opportunities to ensure that they are well armed with all the information they need. So far, we have partnered with over 400 individuals and employ over two hundred full staff across our efforts in Nigeria.
You have a partnership plan that promises up to 30 percent ROI. How does it work?
Yes, we offer our partners around the world, an avenue to create wealth for themselves by providing them with as high as 15-30 percent return on their capitals. The sponsorship from our partners allows for the purchase and breeding of pigs from birth till maturation. The pigs are then processed, packaged and sold with returns given after 11 months.
What are the risks associated with pig farming and what measures have you put in place to guarantee the safety of investment?
One major risk that comes with all livestock farming is a threat to the life of livestock. Even though we know pigs properly managed are very diseases resilient we still see that PorkMoney pigs are insured by the Nigerian Agriculture Insurance Corporation (NAIC) to protect from livestock loss and against unforeseen circumstances. We also ensure that those who play an essential role in every phase four farming process (Factory workers and Farmers) adhere to our stringent procedures, towards the success of our farming cycle.
So far, how has that partnership plan been; how much investment have you been able to pool and what percentage has completed the investment cycle?
Our partnerships are in different phases and cycles. We have set times where we accept partnerships from people. So far, we have been able to partner with over 450 individuals across the different cycles, farmed over 15,000 pigs and generated over N1billion in funds towards our pig farming value chain.
Does Porkmoney have plans to leverage technology (like mobile phone applications) in encouraging private investment and furthering trust in agri-investing?
At Porkmoney, we ensure that we are up to speed with technological advancements and make improvements on the go. We are a digital agribusiness platform with a fully functional website and a good social media presence because we understand the power of technology and its importance in the digital era. One of our plans is to build a mobile app for a much better user experience and help us establish our brand value in the market. This is something that we would achieve before the end of the second quarter of 2020.
Your retail product, Porkoyum, means the focus is not just on rearing pigs but creating also value-addition. Beyond livestock, why is it important that Nigeria stops exporting most of its agric products in raw form and starts value-adding?
Value addition is the only way to get real value for our work. The story of Africans shipping off its raw materials only to buy them back for way more when processed form should not continue to become our story. For PorkMoney it was important for us from the jump that we can be in charge of all the possibilities inherent in our value chain. To this effect, we created our retail brand, Porkoyum, where we supply finished products in the form of our Porkoyum Bacon and Sausages and Diced Pork to homes and restaurants and hotels. We currently are looking to employ over 1000 merchandisers across the state to further strengthen our retail arm.
What has been the reception of Porkoyum products in the market?
Very remarkable! Since we launched Porkoyum in 2018, we have been able to produce three delicious exciting products – The Porkoyum Bacon, Porkoyum Sausages and Porkoyum pork cubes retailing at the fairest prices in the market. Our products are now being sold in over 300 stores in Lagos. We believe that this number will triple when we expand our geographical reach this year.
What are the measures in place to ensure that your pigs and healthy and your products are of quality?
All Porkoyum products are produced under highly safe and hygienic conditions. We place very high importance on this also and various critical control checks are done by the Quality Control officers. For our raw materials, they are sourced from the best vendors of the most reputable pedigree. All raw materials used in producing Porkoyum products undergo laboratory testing. We ensure that the pigs used are healthy. Our Porkoyum products are NAFDAC approved and freshly produced.
Any expansion plans?
Our short term goal is to own the largest privately owned pig farm in Nigeria. We have purchased a vast land space in the Epe area of Lagos which is a step in the right direction. In 5 years, we also want to be a key player in the Agri sector and at the forefront of the livestock farming industry. Our e-commerce brand, Porkoyum currently retails The Porkoyum Sausage, Porkoyum Bacon and our product, the Porkoyum Pork cubes. We are working towards expanding our product line as well as broaden our geographical distribution to being beyond Lagos State and finally across the country. We expect to achieve this success in the next two years.