07 Sep Nature Akoto;Resounding The Call for Agriculturists.
For the average Ghanaian youth, considering a career in agriculture conjures the image of an old man burdened by torturous hours of weeding with a hoe and cutlass in hand, clad in torn shorts, dirty, and drenched in sweat; a far from flattering picture. For Nature Akoto, however, agriculture represents something completely different.
Nature started Vi Farms in his last semester at Ashesi, in 2017. ViFarms is a commercial pig farm which produces high quality lean pork to Ghanaian consumers, using environmentally friendly practices such as the Indigenous Microorganism (IMO) Technology and the Nipple Water System.
Echoing his optimism in the Agricultural sector he says, “We need to remove the tag that agriculture is a dirty chore for the underprivileged and the illiterate.” What is more, in the last quarter of 2018, Nature put his money where his mouth was and rejected a job offer from an international bank, for the sake of his agricultural business venture, ViFarms.
As an enterprise under the guidance of the Ashesi Venture Incubator, ViFarms operates a hybridized business model, aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These include promoting decent work (SDG 8), good health and well-being (SDG 3), reducing hunger (SDG 2), alleviating poverty through job creation (SDG1), and encouraging responsible production and consumption (SDG 12). ViFarms contribution toward the attainment of these SDGs is evident from its value proposition, as well as its incorporation of IMO technology. IMO technology helps to eliminate odors, prevent pollution and also allows for the creation of healthy deep bed litter flooring that can be used as an organic fertilizer.
The Ashesi Venture Incubator (AVI) is a one-year incubation experience for recent graduates and alumni of Ashesi University, run under the auspices of the NEXTI2I Project, in a collaboration between Ashesi University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s D-Lab. Over the course of one year, AVI Fellows benefit from business coaching from local and global business leaders, business development sessions, support services and financial stipends.
Though the agricultural sector at first glance appears unappealing to the youth, it remains the engine-house of the African economy, and a potential accelerator for the attainment of the SDGs. ViFarms is resounding the call on Ghanaian youth and graduates to enter into the agricultural sector. In an Interview with Nature Akoto, he said,
“Since I started this pig farm, a lot of youths, after a series of conversations with them, have expressed interest in the sector. Some have started farming while others have decided to study Agricultural Science in the senior high and tertiary level.”
The enterprise plans to raise at least Seventy-Five Thousand US dollars (US$ 75,000.00) to increase its scale of production and open retail shops in the next three years. Speaking of his plans for the future, Nature said,
“The piggery will be run using the Greenfield Investment Model that incorporates Indigenous Microorganism (IMO) Technology and the water nipple system. We will also use backward integration to produce most of ViFarms’ ingredients for preparing a balanced ration for the animals”.
Nature Akoto’s story demonstrates that the agricultural sector can be both an attractive and lucrative career option for Ghanaian youth.
To find out more about Nature’s work with ViFarms, click @ViFarmsGh.