An exclusive Interview with the CEO of Jadek Farms
Can you please introduce yourself?
I am Oluwakunle Akinwole, the founder and CEO, Jadek Farms Limited who is also the brain behind Porkvest, a renowned online pig farming platform. Both brands are under the parent brand Jadek Agro Connect.
Please give us a brief background on Jadek Farms and the services it provides?
Jadek Farms is building sustainable farm cities aimed at meeting global market demands for agric products, increasing the domestic supply of food to tackle hunger in Nigeria, creating jobs for local farmers and securing profitable yearly returns for our subscribers and partners.
Our agribusiness kicked off from trading cashew nuts to taking over the entire cashew value chain from production to supply. But we have now diversified beyond the cashew nuts industry to include yam and maize production in our growing product catalogue over the years.
What was the inspiration behind Jadek Farms?
Nigeria used to be the global cashew capital in the early 2000s until production drastically within the last 2 decades dropped due to the lack of replacement of old orchards with new trees. Now we only supply about 97,000 tons of cashew nuts which is only 1.7 per cent of the global supply even though our cashew (especially Ogbomoso cashew) is in high demand. The drop in volume of supply consequently led to the loss of livelihoods and a huge supply gap that needed to be fed. Jadek Farms was born out of the need to fill the deficiencies in the cashew value chain as part of a need for the revival of the entire sector.
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How long have you been in existence and how can you evaluate your business growth so far?
We have been in business for about 4 years and got incorporated in 2020 after the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic had eased.
Our business is expanding impressively as people’s eyes are beginning to reopen to the untapped goldmine that is the Cashew industry. Given the dynamics of the cashew value chain, some of the factors that aid our growth are our unique business model, local community inclusion, engaging farmers in the rural community, partnership with transport and logistics brands for haulage.
Who are your target markets and how many clients do you currently serve?
On the one side, we target mid to top-level income earners to subscribe to a partnership with us as we grow the agric industry while they become asset owners while earning decent returns periodically. On the other side, which is on the sales aspect, we target buyers who require bulk supplies. Of special interest to us are end buyers such as foreign companies from Germany, Cambodia, Vietnam among others, that have cashew nut processing facilities.
As for our yam produce, we aim to fill in the export gap that currently exists and supply to the United States who are the biggest buyers of yam from West Africa. Even though Nigeria currently produces the highest amount of yam, most of that is consumed locally while our neighbour, Ghana who produce only a fraction of our stock are the biggest exporters of yam from the region.
What kind of services do you offer that differentiates you from your competitors in the market?
For now, Nigeria commercial cashew growers are not exactly in a competition, rather we are joining hands to strengthen the sector in Nigeria as we are yet to scratch the mark on the demand. However, what Jadek Farms offers all around is an opportunity for individuals to own portions of our farm cities so that by aggregating farming, we boost the volume of supply from a single farm, share resources and harvest uniform quality of nuts, seeds and tubers by harvest.
What are the challenges and opportunities you have experienced since you commenced operations in Nigeria? How well have you navigated some of these challenges and turned them into opportunities?
We’ve had challenges in terms of transportation and logistics needed to move farm produce out of the farming communities. The roads bad conditions are damaging to vehicles consequently resulting in increased cost and downtime. Combining this challenge with delays experienced at the ports increases the risk of spoilage and wastage of the produce before their reach their destination. If this occurs we run the risk of having the goods rejected.
To tackle the issues, we invest in advanced preservation techniques and storage facilities.
Also, these problems have made our resolve to include processing in the nearest future even stronger. We are working towards that earnestly and in the shortest possible time.
When you commenced operations, there were certain objectives/goals you set out. Looking back till today, would you say you have met a good number of the goals you set out?
Yes, currently we have achieved at least 75% of our goals and are scaling on those achievements to expand our business. With the trees that are being currently planted by Jadek Farms and those by locals during which we have encouraged and lectured on better agronomic methods; when they peak in about 10 years we will be competing strongly with Vietnam which currently supplies 45% of the world’s cashew production.
Like I mentioned before, we also have new goals new ones in the works as I mentioned before.
Since the company started, in what ways has it helped to improve cashew production in Nigeria?
We can boldly say we are on the upward trajectory to move Nigeria from the 13th global position for cashew as we continue to erect hundreds of hectares of new trees planted in Ogbomosho. Ogbomosho cashew has the most demanded nuts with the best KOR and we are doing a good job but we are just getting started.
The insecurity situation such as the kidnapping of farmers from their farmlands in various parts of the country is one of the major challenges affecting food production, thereby leading to a surge in food prices. In your view what can be done to tackle this?
The local areas where our farm cities are sited are relatively peaceful notwithstanding, our inclusion of local communities, the leaders of same and engagement of security personnel have helped to keep things safer. We also hope that the government finds a lasting solution so that rural farmers feel safer because agric is the future and we need all hands on deck.
Are there any future projects we should watch out for?
Of course! Just like what happened to Agribusiness in Vietnam in the past two decades, we plan to keep up productivity growth for on-farm and off-farm segments and improve coordination along the cashew value chain. In the nearest future, we shall include processing as part of our services so that stakeholders can get even better returns for their farming investments. This way we would also be able to create farming employment opportunities in both rural and urban Nigeria while boosting the country’s economy.