Abraham Ogebe Adonduwa is the founder of The Abadini Group which he founded in 2017. He started several businesses in Jos, Plateau state while studying Computer Science at the University of Jos. These businesses quickly gained momentum, but were adversely affected by interreligious/ethnic crisis and were effectively dissolved, which necessitated movement to Abuja and a foray into real estate development and marketing. Undaunted and in true entrepreneurial spirit, Abraham leveraged success in the real estate sector and diversified into agriculture and has grown in the last couple of years. Today, one of his products, Abadini Rice has provided over 300,000 bags to Nigerians and still counting. The Benue-born serial entrepreneur tells Bamidele Famoofo in this interview that Nigeria would hardly realise its dream of greatness, except it achieves food sufficiency. Excerpts:
ou moved from 5 hectares to 200 hectares of Rice Farm. How did you achieve this feat and for how long have you been operating?
The Abadini Group is proudly Nigerian: young, vibrant and burning with ideas and a drive to cater to 200million Nigerians locally and a global market that is growing rapidly and brimming with opportunities. Two years ago, we began on a 5 hectares piece of farmland in Benue State, Nigeria and proceeded to process with locally manufactured machines and bagged in poorly made woven sacks. The result? Our sacks had a brand name that peeled off and the rice was unclean and packed with stones. But, we completely sold out in two weeks! This was all the impetus we needed to fuel our drive to succeed. Abadini will be three years old in December. We started the first rice farm venture with nothing but passion and a burning desire to be part of a solution to Nigeria’s food sufficiency problem pushed us to grow rapidly within a short period of time and we are still growing. When the present administration led by the visionary President Buhari came on board, he saw what others didn’t see in farming. And now that many countries are diversifying from crude oil and embracing tourism and agriculture to boost their GDP, Mr. President encouraged the youth to venture into farming and thus create jobs rather than wait for government jobs and we heeded this call because we truly believed it was the future for the Nigerian economy. I am glad to say that we have never regretted the steps we took.
Have you been able to achieve your target of 130 tons production output?
We are conscious of our mission which to produce farm products that are natural, healthy and free from chemical preservatives. So as a young company we are growing, evolving and investing on machines and equipment that will make this dream becomes a reality. Also, we believe that with substantial growth capital we can decisively claim market leadership and substantially expand the market potentials for the company. Now we have a brand new complete rice milling line with 40 tons per day capacity. We also expect to increase this production capacity to 130tons per day. Our inaugural brand; Abadini Rice, is very well received in several markets with demand growing exponentially. We can now aim to inspire the world by showing that it is possible to offer excellent customer service, achieve excellence in design, production, branding and delivery while impacting the lives of employees, investors, distributors and indeed the entire Nigerian community and beyond. Our mission is to make Nigeria’s most cherished staple food available for all at affordable prices. In order for the viability of this goal to be achieved, we have made Abadini rice available in Five (5) different sizes; 50KG, 25KG, 10KG, 5KG and 1KG; for everyone to purchase. And I am proud to say that we may not have met the target set but we have not done badly as a company. In less than three years of our existence, I can boldly say that Abadini Rice has supplied nearly 300,000 bags of rice to the households of Nigerians. We are still a bit far from the ultimate target but the roadmap to achieving it has been drawn and we are currently on the right path.
Who are the investors in Abadini Rice?
Abadini is a privately held company with a vibrant board of directors who are helping to drive the mission and vision of the organization. Again, I am happy to say that 99 per cent of us are less than 40 years old. We also have an experienced hand in Engr. S. Adonduwa, a member of the board and shareholder. He is a seasoned Chemical Engineer with over 35 years working experience. He serves in advisory capacity and offers guidance and assistance, bringing the wealth of his experience and vast network to bear. Also, we have investment categories which allow an ordinary Nigerian to invest. You may call it ‘Abadini Investment Inclusion’ in the sense that we have a programme called Abadini Growers’ Programme whereby an investors can sponsor a Unit with N250,000 at 25 per cent return on investment (Rol) in eight months or invest in 50 Units and above and get 27 per cent (Rol). You may wonder why the healthy returns. It is simple. At competitive interest rates, you can invest and get your money back (including interest) within the shortest possible time. You can also choose to revolve your capital and interest for another cycle. Payback period is within 6-8 months, depending on the farm type, you can grow your investments from seeds to trees. As said earlier, with as low as N50,000 you can be an investor and watch your money work while you sleep. Investments are risky by nature, but we’ve gone an extra mile to ensure that all our projects are 100% insured and backed up by reputable and experienced insurance providers.
In what ways are you giving back to the communities around where you operate in form of CSR?
We operate 200 hectares of farmlands in Benue State and we have currently set up livestock ranches in Benue and Abuja. Our multi million naira rice factory, which is second only to the state Governor’s rice factory, is located at the heart of the industrial layout in Makurdi, where we provide jobs for over 50 indigenes and residents. Our Ultramodern Rice Milling Factory provides a significant number of jobs for people from the community where we are located in Makurdi, Benue State. We also contribute towards the infrastructure of the Industrial Layout, which the Benue State Governor has quite frankly taken very seriously.
Why did you choose to diversify into Livestock Farming?
We recognise that the market opportunity for our products is beyond our imagination and current situation; rice, maize, housing (which encompasses our block industries and housing projects), processed and packaged meat (including but not limited to Pork, Beef, Chicken, Turkey), fish and animal rearing (Pigs, Chicken, Goats, Cows, Sheep). We believe that with substantial growth capital we can decisively claim market leadership and substantially expand the market potentials for the company. We are consolidating on our trajectory in the rice production, packaging and sales, which has seen a significant and constant rise in demand. Having said that, we are interested in providing solutions across the entire Agriculture value chain. We have a vision and a mission to make Nigeria great. We believe that food sufficiency is one of the surest paths to achieving this ultimate Nigerian dream.
Has your company ever enjoyed any form of support from government, especially the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, in the process of expanding your business?
The CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme under the amiable, committed and unassuming Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele is highly commendable. For the first time we witnessed a government that is committed to alleviating the suffering of Nigerian farmers through palliative measures and incentives. Without doubt, it has boosted the agricultural sector as more people have shown interest to go into farming or many people have seen farming as a viable venture. Back to your question, we are yet to enjoy any form of support from the government yet but we are hopeful that the government will recognize our efforts and partner with us.
What informed your choice of Benue State as your operational base?
Besides the fact that I am Idoma by tribe, from Benue State, access to raw materials (rice paddy) and proximity to our rice farms informed our choice.
Would you say the federal government is truly committed to diversify Nigeria’s economy through agriculture?
I believe that the government was thirty percent committed before Covid-19 but right now there is a divine wakeup call and the commitment level has gone very high, thanks to the visionary leadership of President Buhari, who has always been a huge champion for Agriculture.
What are the challenges you hope to overcome for the productivity of your company to further increase?
Access to funds remains the most daunting challenge we face in this industry. There’s also the ubiquitous insecurity factor which I pray and hope that the government can finally put in check so that real progress can prevail in our country.
Has this Covid-19 pandemic affected your operations in any way?
Yes it has! Covid-19 has put pressure on our rice production as demand has skyrocketed in light of the fact that the usual channels for smuggling imported rice are nearly nonexistent. The government has ramped up the clampdown on such nefarious activities and forced us to think creatively about total backward integration of our operations.
Given your experience so far in farming, would you say there is prospect for aspiring farmers in Nigeria?
My advice to anyone who has even a minute interest in farming is, go for it because the future of farming is bright.
How are you coping with the ravaging herdsmen in your business location? Have you incurred any loss due to their activities and how best can government resolve the menace?
We have been fortunate enough so far. However, we don’t take insurance lightly and I am happy to note that Leadway Assurance has proven so far to be a very serious insurance company custom made for the myriad business risks in Nigeria.