Rice farmer in Nigeria
In Ebonyi State, Nigeria, Oke John Ogbonnaya combined advanced growing practices with innovative business strategies from HP LIFE to create a modern rice farm.
"From the time I was very young I worked on my father's rice farm in Nkalagu, Nigeria," says Oke John. "We relied on hard manual labor that took a huge toll on my family. I always dreamed of creating a mechanized rice farm that improved the old-fashioned methods we used at my father's farm." But Oke John's dream stalled with a lack of funding and expertise.
However, in 2010, all that changed. In addition to taking some agricultural courses thanks to a state grant, Oke John also graduated from the HP LIFE training offered by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) at the Centre for Small Industry Research and Training (CENSIRT) in Abakaliki. "I put the marketing, ICT, and sales strategies I received there to good use," he says.
First, he combined modern agricultural methods with a forward-thinking business model he learned at HP LIFE. Oke John created a superior product he calls Destiny Rice, which is parboiled, milled, de-stoned, and winnowed before sale—an innovative process that is the first of its kind in Ebonyi State. The rice is then packaged into different weight quantities to suit a variety of customers—a marketing tactic he learned through HP LIFE.
He also used contact management strategies to increase awareness of his product. Destiny Rice has since become very popular in Nigeria and even received international exposure. Oke John's modernized approach to farming has made him not only a successful entrepreneur, but also a role model for other farmers in the region. He specializes in irrigation rice farming, creates local job opportunities, and teaches modern cultivation methods to his fellow farmers. Oke John plans to increase production to 20 tons of rice every 90 days. Along the way he'll use the farm as a training center, introduce integrated farming, and implement all -season crops. The dream that once languished for Oke John is now very much alive.